Christmas: keeping children safe through data protection

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The festive season is upon us, if you’re worried that data protection is here to ruin Christmas – fear not. Below is some advice on how to ensure you and/or your organisation protect children’s rights, when sharing photographs/videos of school nativity plays or other festive events*.

Q: I’m a parent/carer/grandparent – does the Data Protection Law stop me taking photos of my children at school?
A: In short, probably not. The Data Protection Law is unlikely to prevent you from photographing/filming your own children in their school. Remember, if photos are taken for your own personal use they are not covered by the Law. The school may have its own rules around the taking of photographs/video which may reflect safeguarding policies that have been adopted. Also, some schools make a decision to have an official photographer/videographer at events. If in doubt, check directly with the school.

Q: What about sharing photos/videos of my children on social media?
A: Again, the law does not prevent you from doing this, as long as you are sharing this content privately with family members/friends.

Q: What if the photographs/video I’m sharing feature other people’s children too?
A: When you share this kind of content in a public group or platform, the Law would apply, and you must respect the children’s rights under the Data Protection Law.

Remember that ‘data protection’ is really ‘people protection’, and that there are children whose family situation is not known to you – if you publicly share content that identifies them as attending a particular school you may be inadvertently compromising their privacy or even putting them in danger. Avoiding scenarios like this goes to the heart of the reason why data protection laws were strengthened in 2018, both locally and in many other jurisdictions worldwide. Also, remember that this applies to other parents/carers that may be taking images of your child. Treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself. The law is not designed to prevent legitimate activity, it is designed to protect the rights of all of us.

Q: As a school are we allowed to share content featuring our pupils in school newsletters, or online?
A: As a school processing personal information about children, their family and your employees, the Data Protection Law applies. You should have comprehensive, readily-available, and up-to-date data protection policies that detail how you protect your pupils’ personal data (including imagery of them). If you are relying on children (or their legal guardian) consenting to your use of their personal data then you must have a record of how that consent was freely given and what use it applied to. But, remember that consent is not your only option – there are a number of other conditions that you can legally base your handling of personal data on. It is important that parents/guardians of children are fully informed of the way in which you handle all personal data and are given an opportunity to ask you for further information about the processing.

In summary:

  • Check the rules for recording visual content (photos/videos) at your own school.
  • Treat other people’s children in the same way that you would expect them to treat yours – with respect.
  • Do not record or share visual content of children publicly without making sure that is what all parties are happy with.
  • Enjoy the event!

If you need any further advice on this, or any other matter related to protecting personal data please call us on 742074 or email enquiries@odpc.gg.

* This advice applies all year round, to all school events such as sports day, prize givings, open days, fundraisers etc.