17 May Data Protection Workshop
I was recently invited to deliver a workshop as part of an Education Law Day aimed at an audience of school principals, members of boards and trustees. The presentation dealt with the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation, legislation that will be implemented Europe-wide in a year’s time. So from next May 2018, we will have, for the first time, the same data protection laws throughout the European union (in fact throughout the EFTA to be precise).
While data protection might not immediately grab you as a stimulating topic for discussion, in fact when you examine it, it really is very interesting! The processing of data is associated with nearly every facet of our lives. And, as a recent cover of the Economist magazine, described it “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”
Schools, like most other organisations, big and small, are data controllers i.e. they are responsible for processing personal data, some of it very sensitive. As such they need to ensure they observe the laws around data protection. My workshop aimed to identify some key issues for schools in terms of getting “GDPR-ready”. And of course many of the actions that schools need to take are no different to those that apply elsewhere, both within the public and private sectors.
If you want to get ready for GDPR, where can you go to find information?
The Data Protection Commissioner’s website is the key depository for DP-related information in Ireland and is constantly being updated to reflect the adoption of GDPR. For example this pamphlet gives a quick overview of the forthcoming changes.
Many will already be familiar with the dedicated Data Protection for Schools website that is operated by the various bodies that support school management. At the time of writing (May 2017), this website contains few references to GDPR. However it is still an excellent starting point if are reviewing your preparedness. This is because GDPR can be seen as building on the existing Data Protection foundations and practice that has been shaped by the current legislation (the DP Acts 1988 and 2003).