Erik Jensen reports:
The St Vincent de Paul Society has been accused of breaching public trust and aspects of the Privacy Act after entering into an agreement that allowed one of the world’s largest data companies to gather information through a Christmas mail-out from the charity.
The society defended its relationship with Acxiom but admitted to allowing it to write half the questions in the survey – and to collecting only limited data from the four-page questionnaire.
The survey, sent to 20,000 people on behalf of the charity’s Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, asked about relationship status, household income, home ownership, children and other interests. Only four questions asked directly about Matthew Talbot’s services.
The chairman of the Australian Privacy Foundation, Roger Clarke, said the preparation of the survey might have breached the Privacy and Trade Practices acts.
Acxiom was also supplied with the society’s donor database to build a mailing list, despite an undertaking in the charity’s privacy statement that ”any information provided, including identification of individuals, will be used only for the purpose for which it has been collected”.
The survey was conducted under Acxiom’s privacy statement, not the charity’s.
A spokesman for Acxiom said the company had complied with privacy legislation.
Read more in The Brisbane Times.