Use of photographs and video
This guidance covers photos or video (images) of people taken for University purposes.
If the image can be used to identify an individual and tell you something about them it is likely that it will be personal data for the purpose of the Data Protection Act. People can obviously be identified from names but may also be identified from contextual information e.g. the caption reads: ‘This photo shows students working in the Law library’.
The following examples will help you to identify the issues that you need to consider.
Photos of specific individuals/groups
Where an image is clearly of an individual or group of individuals, who are the focus of the image, it will be personal data, and consent is required to use it. Although the Data Protection Act does not specify that consent should be in written form it is strongly recommended that you obtain written consent so that you have a record, in case of subsequent disputes.
Consent forms must explain clearly and fully how the image will be used and how long it will be retained e.g.
I give permission to the University of Oxford for my photograph and written profile to be used in the [Undergraduate Prospectus and University website] and other promotional material for which it may be suitable. Images will be held and used in publicity for up to X years.
Photos where individuals inadvertently appear in the background
It will not normally be necessary to obtain the specific permission of all who appear incidentally in the background of publicity shots where they are clearly not the focus of the image.
Photos of large crowds/events
Where an image does not focus on one individual or group of individuals, the data is unlikely to be personal data. In addition, it may not be practicable to obtain the consent of every individual. However, it is good practice to ensure that there are clear signs around the venue indicating that publicity photos are being taken.
Publication on web
Publishing an image on the web is a potential disclosure to the world at large. Particular care must be taken therefore to obtain appropriate consent where the image constitutes personal data. In cases of doubt you should err on the side of caution and not publish the image.
It may not be appropriate to ask VIPs to complete consent forms, in which case it should be sufficient to obtain verbal consent.
Although the Data Protection Act does not specify an age limit where images of children are being taken it is important to obtain written consent from the child’s parent/guardian.