Subject Access Requests - New ICO Guidelines

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published guidance on right of access in order to support organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. See details here ICO - Right of access guidance.

The new guidance serves to demonstrate that the ICO is taking a pragmatic and empathetic approach to its regulatory role, acknowledging the current challenges faced by many organisations and schools during this difficult time. Many organisations and schools are facing staff and resource shortages as well as financial pressures.

As such, whilst the ICO cannot extend statutory deadlines for response times to Subject Access Requests, the ICO recognises that many organisations and schools will be operating with reduced staffing levels and resources, which may affect the ability to respond to Subject Access Requests.

The ICO has advised that they will bear this in mind when considering enforcement actions and will not penalise organisations and schools who have had to reprioritise as a result of the current health crisis.

However, this is no excuse to put compliance on the back burner, as the ICO has also made it clear that firm actions will be taken against any organisation seeking to exploit the current situation.

Schools should endeavour to respond to Subject Access Request, without undue delays, and communicate any potential issues with providing a prompt response to data subjects.

Remember to seek support from your DPO / EDPO on Subject Access Requests!