In the Bible people’s details are recorded a number of times. In the Old Testament we read about censuses, some to establish the number of the people of Israel, others for determining the number of men eligible for military service. Solomon even undertook a census of the number of foreigners in the land for the purpose of allocating labour. This was a very different world – no reference to data protection regulations, there are no ‘opt out’ tick boxes and no record of canvassers harassing people for donations.
Today data is recognised as a very valuable commodity. It is necessary for wise allocation of government resources such as adequate health and education facilities but it can also be misused leading to identity theft or the targeting of particular segments of society who could be termed vulnerable.
In the UK strict data protection regulations exist and these are being extended through the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations which will come into effect in May 2018. Not only is compliance a legal requirement but it is necessary to be able to prove that there are documented systems and processes in place to ensure that compliance is both being adhered to and monitored. Hefty fines (and even imprisonment) are possible for breaches with responsibility resting with trustees.
These apply to all organisations including mission agencies and churches – maybe you don’t think you hold sensitive data or are involved in using your data for fund raising, but do you know the precise definitions of these terms? Recently GC held a seminar to provide some guidance. Click here for details of experts who could help ensure you will be ready. While May 2018 might seem a long way off it is imperative that you start work on this topic immediately.