Feeds

ICO makes mincemeat of nativity data protection piffle

Parents can take pics of their kids. Sing hosanna!

The Power of One Infographic

The Information Commissioner’s Office (pdf) is sending a seasonal note to schools to reiterate that parents taking pics of their offspring kitted out as angels or shepherds is not a Data Protection matter.

Meanwhile, Leicester police - previously castigated as bearers of bad tidings - have declared goodwill to all men bearing cameras, and stated publicly that no one will be arrested just for snapping the school play.

Back in 2007, the Information Commissioner was praised for injecting what was then described as "a welcome dose of common sense" into the debate. He did much the same last year, and now he is issuing fresh guidance that states quite categorically: "The Data Protection Act does not prevent family and friends from taking photographs at school concerts or plays [this Christmas]".

Schools, of course, still need to obtain permission, as does any other individual or body where photographs are not merely for personal use and where they are likely to end up as processable data. That last caveat is important, and in most cases almost certainly exempts old-fashioned hard copy photography from the rules.

Slightly confusingly, the guidance (pdf) also talks about media possibly needing to get permission to take photographs of children. A spokeswoman for the ICO explained that the DPA does not necessarily apply in such cases, but they simply wanted to clarify "good practice".

Not that such guidelines prevent the "banned by the DPA" line from circulating as one of the modern age’s most persistent urban myths.

A report in the Mail this week tells the sorry tale of Lee Ingram, a parent supposedly barred from taking photos of his children during the nativity play at Imperial Avenue Infant School in Braunstone, Leicester. The report implies that this is for reasons of Data Protection – although this is strenuously denied by the local LEA.

Their official line is that the school’s Head Teacher Jenny Pickering consulted with governors, and decided on balance that since some parents were happy for their children to be snapped and others weren’t, she would impose a blanket ban on all parental photography during plays.

The Mail's report also claims that police were called to the school, and Mr Ingram was then threatened with arrest for breach of the peace. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

The LEA tell us that the police intervention was a local CSO who just happened to be in the audience at the time – and that claims by Mr Ingram that the police phoned him this year to warn him off were untrue.

Leicestershire police, too, are adamant that they would assess all calls on a "case by case basis", and that they clearly would not need to intervene in a dispute over a purely civil matter.

According to Laura Midgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, Ingram is known as a supporter of a number of their campaigns.

As far as photo-bans go, Midgley told us: “The problem is an over-zealous desire to protect children and a willingness to quote data protection, which doesn’t in fact solve any problems - and is more likely to create problems by missing the real issues.”

The official line from the ICO, from LEAs (not just Leicester) with whom we have spoken today and local police is that this is not obviously a data protection matter: that in most cases, schools aren’t even claiming it is. But on the evidence so far, that won’t stop some schools claiming it is – or even more papers claiming that they have claimed it is. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.