Data Protection Acts
The Data Protection Acts provide similar rights of access as the FOI Acts, the main difference being that the Data Protection Acts do not apply to records of deceased persons. As with the FOI Acts, these rights extend to an individual’s own personal records and in specific circumstances, to those of their children. There are exemptions provided for in the Acts, this means that there are specific circumstances when the requested information will not be released. If any of these exemptions are used to withhold information, the reasons will be clearly explained to you.
Data Protection is the safeguarding of the privacy rights of individuals in relation to the processing of personal data. An individual supplies information about themselves to many organisations, including the Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB) in order to avail of services or satisfy obligations. For the purpose of Data Protection, such organisations or individuals who control the contents and use of personal data are known as Data Controllers.
Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board, as a Data Controller must adhere to the eight rules of Data Protection. The eight rules, which apply whether the information is held on a computer or in a manual form, are:
- Obtain and process information fairly;
- Keep it only for one or more specified, explicit and lawful purposes;
- Use and disclose it only in ways compatible with these purposes;
- Keep it safe and secure;
- Keep it accurate, complete and up-to-date;
- Ensure that it is adequate, relevant and not excessive;
- Retain it for no longer than is necessary for the purpose or purposes;
- Give a copy of his/her personal data to that individual upon request.
An individual must apply in writing and simply refer to the Data Protection Act. The application fee of €6.35 must accompany the request.
When to use the Data Protection Acts:
An individual may use either the Freedom of Information Acts or the Data Protection Acts to access personal information held by public bodies. However, the Data Protection Acts apply only to an individual’s own personal information and requires an application fee of €6.35. Also, the Data Protection Acts apply to all holders of personal information, not just public bodies.
Entitlements under the Data Protection Acts:
- A decision will, in normal circumstances, issue within 40 days of receipt of your request;
- Details of your entitlement to complain to the Data Protection Commissioner will be included in the decision letter.
Access to Information
To make an access request under the Data Protection Acts, a request must be submitted in writing. The request should describe the records sought in the greatest detail possible to enable WWETB to identify the relevant records. There may be a fee of €6.35 for an application under Data Protection.