On Friday 25th May, the new General Data Protection Regulation comes into force. It affects the relationships we all have as individuals with every organisation we choose to belong to or do business with and who keep any kind of records about us, including Gravesend, Northfleet and District U3A (GU3A).
The principle is that the individual ‘owns’ the information that each such organisation holds about them. Every individual has the right to know what sort of information is being held about them, what use is made of it and who has access to it. We, as U3A members, must be told how the data is held, have the right to inspect the entry relating to ourselves and challenge / correct anything that has been mis-recorded, or ask that particular details be deleted.
GU3A records only the information that each member supplies about themselves when they join or renew membership and pay their subscription. Nobody cross-checks with any other organisation. Neither are the records shared with, let alone sold to, anyone outside of the U3A organisation. Paying your subscription constitutes a contract - GU3A asks for, and records, your chosen name, a postal address you can pick up mail from and a landline phone number it might reach you on. Additionally, it asks for a single mobile number and email address, if you wish to give them. Finally, it asks whether you expect to be liable to pay income tax in the current financial year. These, along with your issued membership number, constitute all the details that GU3A records, and their primary purpose is to enable GU3A to keep in touch with you about forthcoming events. Unlike so many organisations nowadays, we do not ask for your date of birth or age, or any details of your health, income or assets, ethnicity, politics, religion etc.
At present, GU3A holds email addresses for 94% of its members. This means that these lucky majority receive their monthly newsletters up to three days earlier than 2nd class post could manage, as well as saving GU3A at least £2000 a year in postage and extra printing. Your subs would have to be at least £8 a year higher without email distribution. Holding a mobile number for members is particularly useful on our day excursions. Imagine sitting in a stuffy coach on Brighton Sea Front, engine running, driver chafing to start the return journey, the last two members lost somewhere in the Lanes… The income tax question is to enable GU3A to reclaim an extra £3.50 for each tax-paying member from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by way of Gift Aid.
Your data is held on an Excel Spreadsheet, compiled by our membership secretary and shared each month with every member of the GU3A committee, including the Social Secretary and Newsletter Editor. The final (December) versions are archived and kept for seven years to comply with HMRC practice, in case any queries arise. Five times a year, an abstract (names and postal address only, one record covers couples at the same address) of our members’ details is sent to the ‘parent’ national U3A in order to keep their records up to date and ensure everyone receives the ‘Third Age Matters’ magazine. Members have the right to ask to be omitted from this exercise.
You have the right to inspect the details recorded about you - just email me (CONTACT - Data Protection Officer) and I will reply at the earliest opportunity. As usual, if you move, change your phone number(s) or email address, please let me know as soon as possible. If you wish any part of your personal data to be withheld for any reason just ask and it will be done without demurral.
All new and renewing members will be asked to positively confirm their assent as they pay their membership subscription.