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Children have the same rights as adults in relation to their personal data, including the right to request access to it, commonly referred to as a subject access request.
Any child may exercise their access rights as long as they are considered competent to do so. In England, ‘competence’ is assessed on the level of the child’s understanding, and they should not be deemed competent if it is evident that they are acting against their own best interests.
Regardless of their age, the right belongs to the child and not their parent or guardian, who should only be allowed to exercise a child’s right of access on behalf of them if:
When assessing whether a child is capable of authorising a subject access request, you need to establish whether the child can understand and deal with the implications of exercising their data protection rights. For example, do they understand what it means to request a copy of their personal data and how to interpret the information that they receive as a result of doing so?
When considering a subject access request from a child’s parent or guardian, it is important to consider the following factors before releasing the information:
If you are satisfied that the child is incapable of making the subject access request themself and that obtaining the information is in the best interest of the child, then it is usually appropriate to allow the parent or guardian to exercise the child’s rights on their behalf.
However, if you have evidence that providing the data is not in the best interest of the child, for example, because there are safeguarding issues, you have the right to decline the parent or guardian’s request.
For advice on responding to a subject access request, please call us on 01332 226 130 or complete the form below.
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