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Photo consent: GDPR and beyond

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By Zoe Williams, Communications Manager

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming, and it gives those of us working in the children’s sector an ideal opportunity to think about how we seek consent for pictures of the children and young people we work with.

It may be a cliche to say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but these days, photos and film are essential for sharing the work we do. At the same time, ensuring we respect the rights of the children we serve and fulfil our legal duties is crucial.

Over the last few months, how we seek consent to create and share photos and videos has been playing heavily on our minds at Kidscape. In November last year, our CEO Lauren Seager-Smith participated in a fireside chat at Charity Comms’s Making The News conference with BBC Head of Safeguarding Catherine McAllister and BBC Newsround editor Lewis James, discussing the topic of protecting young people who choose to share their stories. Many interesting questions were raised about gaining truly informed consent. Meanwhile, the spectre of the GDPR has been looming, with its requirements to gain clear consent.

With these points in mind, we’ve revised our photo and video consent process at Kidscape to meet and exceed the legal requirements which come into effect on 25th May 2018. At its heart, the GDPR is all about transparency, accountability and consent; and we’ve tried to ensure our new process reflects this. Our new consent process includes a form along with accompanying information sheets for children and parents and carers, and guidance for staff in seeking consent for photography and filming.

Here’s some tips for getting informed consent:

1) Meet your legal obligations

You must have a photo/video release form that includes the following:

  • Explanation of how the photos/video will be used
  • Copyright information
  • Information about privacy
  • Accountable contact details
  • A clear statement of consent
  • A clear statement that consent can be revoked, and how to revoke it

2) Give practical examples

To assist children and families with giving informed consent, it can help to give examples of how images will be used. Our photo consent form includes an information sheet with examples of how we’ve used photographs in various contexts, for example, brochures, social media, website and fundraising resources. This helps children and families understand how their images may appear.

3) Explain why you’re doing it and potential risks

Our information sheet contain an honest explanation as to why we need photographs/ video footage: namely, that it helps promote our cause! We’ve also included information about potential risks, such as being recognised by others, and the steps we’re taking to protect privacy, such as never posting a picture with visible name badges or other identifying information such as the name of the school.

4) Seek consent from the child as well as parental consent

While the law doesn’t necessarily require consent from children, we think it’s really important that children and young people are included in the decision-making process and that their consent (or non-consent) is respected, too. As well as information sheets for adults, we’ve made information sheets using appropriate language for younger people. If a situation arises where a parent gives permission to use images while the child does not, we’ll go with what the child wants--after all, it’s their image that’s being used!

5) Get consent before the cameras come out!

The best time to seek consent to be photographed or filmed is before any photography or filming takes place. This means that steps can be taken to avoid getting people who have chosen not to consent in shot, and maximises the amount of usable footage you will have. You can seat non-consenters on a side of the room which is not being photographed, or brief the photographer as to who not to shoot.

6) Don’t treat it as a box-ticking exercise

There’s always a temptation to do what is legally required of you and stop there. However, this can be an opportunity to begin conversations within your organisation and with the young people you work with about data protection, online safety and consent. Rather than treating seeking consent to be photographed as a chore, it’s an opportunity to think carefully with your service users about what is appropriate within your organisation, the risks and how to always put children’s rights and needs at the heart of your actions.

Further information about your GDPR obligations

If you’d like to talk more about photo consent for young people, then please contact Zoe Williams, Kidscape Communications Manager, at zoe@kidscape.org.uk

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