HomeData Protection GuidelinesData Access RequestsHandling requests to rectify personal data

Handling requests to rectify personal data

Every individual about whom a data controller (i.e. school/ETB) keeps personal information on computer or in manual form, has a number of other rights under the Acts, in addition to the right of access.  These include the right to have their data rectified or erased.

If an individual discovers that a school/ETB has details about them (or their child in the case of parents of children under 18) that are not factually correct, s/he can ask the school to change or, in some cases, remove these details.  Similarly, if the individual feels that the school/ETB does not have a valid reason for holding their personal details or that the school/ETB has collected these details in an unfair way, the individual can ask to have the details changed or removed. 

In both cases, the individual should write to the school principal explaining their concerns or outlining which details are incorrect.  A form is provided by accessing the following link Personal Rectification/Erasure Form. Within 40 days, the school must rectify or erase the data or explain why they will not do so.

If the information the individual feels is inaccurate is of a factual nature (e.g. date of birth, address, spelling of name), and can be proven by reference to an official document the individual should furnish a copy of the official document to the school/ETB, and the school/ETB should change the data within the 40 day time limit, and confirm to the individual that this has been done. 

It should be noted that the right of rectification/erasure is not an unqualified right.  If the rectification/erasure sought is not of a factual nature or may be opinion-based in any way, (e.g. a report of a meeting, psychological report), or if the school/ETB disagrees with the request to amend/delete, the school/ETB is advised to seek legal advice before any rectification/erasure. However you should note that seeking legal advice is not a requirement under the data protection legislation.  In some cases, an amicable solution can be reached by suggesting to the data subject that the school/ETB will supplement the school's/ETB’s records with an annotation to the effect that the data subject believes that the data is inaccurate, and their reasons for this. See Case Study 1 of 2007 on the website of the Data Protection Commissioner for an example of data rectification/erasure.