Children under 13

The GDPR requires that parents or guardians must give permission for organisations to offer an online service in order to hold or process the personal data of those under the age of 16. An online service can be anything from a search engine, to bespoke software like iKnow Church.

However, there is a provision within the GDPR for member states like the UK to lower this age if they see fit. In the UK, the ‘age of consent’ for allowing the storage of their own data is 13.

When the child reaches 13 they themselves need to give their own permission, as well as allowing you to keep holding the older data.

Bear in mind that even if you are not offering any online services, you are likely to be storing and processing special category data belonging to children, which is among the most sensitive information to which your church will have access. The GDPR makes special mention of children and the processing of their data. You can read the ICO’s current draft advice on the website (PDF). If this data is going to be shared with any third parties, you will need consent.

Although their parents or guardians may give permission on the child’s behalf, you should still try to ensure that you are taking special care with children’s data. Your Privacy Policy and other documentation should be written in clear, plain language which is easy to understand. You should avoid automated decision-making that you may have in place for processing adult’s data. You should also make some reasonable effort to ascertain that an adult giving proxy permission actually does have legal parental responsibility. This will likely not be the case for grandparents, older siblings, or step-parents, unless a court order has been made.

Keep in mind that consent is only one of the six possible lawful bases, and may not always be the most appropriate when dealing with a child. Unless you can be absolutely sure that the child fully understands, you should seek consent from an adult with parental responsibility.

Parental consent is not required if the child is accessing counselling or preventitive services.
 




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