The ICO has issued a statement confirming that the Data Protection Act does not prevent parents from taking photos at school plays and concerts. DPA ban "a myth"
Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham said:
“Having a child perform at a school play or a festive concert is a very proud moment for parents and is understandably a memory that many want to capture on camera. It is disappointing to hear that the myth that such photos are forbidden by the Data Protection Act still prevails in some schools".
“A common sense approach is needed – clearly, photographs simply taken for a family album are exempt from data protection laws. Armed with our guidance, parents should feel free to snap away this Christmas and stand ready to challenge any schools or councils that say ‘Bah, Humbug’ to a bit of festive fun.”
The ICO's general guidance on photography in schools confirms that it adopts the same approach to all photos taken for personal purposes, so taking photos at events such as sports days is also allowed. Photos taken for official purposes/by professional photographers may be subject to the Data Protection Act. The ICO encourages a common sense approach where the Act does apply, noting that a photographer asking for permission before taking a photo will generally be sufficient to ensure compliance.
Data Protection myths
The ICO has a history of tackling what it sees as commonly held myths regarding data protection, particularly where it considers that organisations are hiding behind the Data Protection Act as an excuse to avoid passing on information or dealing with certain kinds of enquiries. In this area, the ICO has also encouraged organisations to adopt a common sense approach to data protection law which is not overly restrictive.
It is therefore important to train staff that data protection compliance often involves making balanced, pragmatic judgments rather than adopting an overly restrictive approach which hampers legitimate activity of the business or its customers.