Clinton Foundation’s misleading claim about Canadian laws on donor info

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 at 8:28 am

The Clinton Foundation said “all charities are prohibited from disclosing individual donors without prior permission from each donor” under Canadian law. It is unclear whether the foundation is referring to federal or provincial law. If it is the later, the statement would be accurate.

However, the charity’s own memo says it is operating under federal obligations and its fiduciary duty for its board of directors. The federal law does not explicitly ban charities from disclosing individual donor names without permission. In fact, it only applies to commercial use of personal information. The public release of donor names for a non-commercial purpose is not prohibited. The charity, however, interprets the release of donor records as “bartering,” which experts have questioned.

The charity’s memo notes that under Canadian law, donors have the right to privacy, and that the board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility to use donors’ personal information for its own charitable purposes. While that may be the case, Pally’s statement implies that there is a blanket Canadian law that bans charities from disclosing donor information without permission. That is not exactly the case.

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