What is Data Protection?

Data protection is the means by which the privacy rights of individuals are safeguarded in relation to the processing of their personal data.  The Data Protection Acts, 1988 and 2003 confer rights on individuals as well as placing responsibilities on schools and ETBs processing personal data. The Acts:

  • Establish a framework of requirements which are designed to safeguard personal data
  • Support the legitimate needs of organisations (including schools and ETBs) to collect and use personal data and
  • Provide individuals with a wide range of rights.

Schools/ETBs must appreciate that the Data Protection Acts are important, and must be always be considered together with all other relevant law which applies to Schools/ETBs, including:

  • Case law
  • Education Act 1998 (as amended)
  • Education (Welfare) Act 2000
  • Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (Note: not fully commenced)
  • Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Note: not fully commenced)
  • Children First Act 2015 (Note: not commenced) 
  • Equality legislation
  • Employment laws
  • National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 (Note: not commenced)
  • Circulars issued by the Department of Education and Skills

It is important to note that where schools/ETBs may have a particular concern or query in relation to data protection, advice should be sought at an early stage.  Contact details for management bodies, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, and the relevant section of the Department of Education and Skills are provided by accessing links on this website.