Procedures and guidance on the key areas of the GDPR and on data protection in general can be found here.

The purpose of these procedures is to assist College employees in supporting the College’s , which affirms its commitment to protect the privacy rights of individuals in accordance with the legislation. The guidelines set out the areas of work in which data protection issues arise, and outline best practice in dealing with these issues.

All staff should familiarise themselves with the relevant procedures. For quick guides to the procedures, please see Guidelines for Staff or Student Data, as appropriate.


Data Protection Policy

College’s Records Management Policy

College IT and Network Code of Conduct.

Consent and Lawful Processing

MYTH I need to get consent for all processing of personal data.
FACT Consent is one way to legally process personal data, it is not the only way nor is it always the best way.

Guidance on Consent and Lawful Processing


To help staff ensure that they are GDPR compliant in their day-to-day handling of electronic personal data in the University, IT Services have provided updated advice and information on GDPR and the use of IT systems and services on the IT Security website.

Principles of data protection

In order to ensure College compliance with these rules, you must observe the following procedures at all times.

Obtaining and processing personal data

Personal data is obtained fairly if the data subject is aware of the purpose for which the College is collecting the data, of the categories of person/organisation to whom the data may be disclosed, of non-obligatory or optional answers in forms, of the right of access to the data and of the right of rectification of the data.

  • Obtain personal data only when there is a clear purpose for so doing, obtain only whatever personal data are necessary for fulfilling that purpose and ensure data are used only for that purpose.
  • The use of College data processing facilities in capturing and storing personal data for non-University purposes must not take place.
  • Inform data subjects of what personal information is held by the College, what it will be used for and to whom it may be disclosed.
  • Obtain explicit consent in writing for processing sensitive data and retain a copy of the consent. Consent cannot be inferred from non-response in the case of sensitive data.

Disclosing personal data

Personal data should only be disclosed in ways that are necessary or compatible with the purpose for which the data are kept. Special attention should be paid to the protection of sensitive personal data, the disclosure of which would normally require explicit consent.

  • Except where there is a statutory obligation to comply with a request for personal data, or where a data subject has already been made aware of disclosures, do not disclose to any third party any personal data without the consent of the data subject.
  • Verbal consent to disclosure of personal data to the data subject may be obtained by telephone in the case of non-sensitive personal data, but must include asking the subject to confirm facts that should be known only to them, such as date of birth, student number, etc. The date and time of the giving of verbal consent should be recorded in writing.
  • Verbal consent to disclosure of personal data to a third party is not permitted unless there is a statutory obligation to disclose, or the information is released, to the Gardai for example, for the prevention of crime and if informing the subject of the disclosure would prejudice the enquiries, or unless it is in the vital interests of the data subject.
  • Personal data should only be disclosed to work colleagues where they have a legitimate interest in the data in order to fulfil administrative functions. Be satisfied of the need to disclose.
  • Personal data should not be disclosed outside of the EEA unless written consent has been obtained, unless disclosure is required for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is a party, or unless disclosure is necessary for the purpose of legal proceedings.

Permitted disclosures of personal data

The Acts provide for disclosures, other than to the data subject, where data are:

  • authorised for safeguarding the security of the State;
  • required for the purpose of preventing, detecting or investigating offences, apprehending or prosecuting offenders, or assessing moneys due to the State;
  • required to protect the international relations of the State;
  • required urgently to prevent damage to health or serious loss/damage to property;
  • required under law;
  • required for legal advice or legal proceedings;
  • disclosed to the data subject;
  • disclosed at the request or with the consent of the data subject;

Securing personal data

The College must protect personal data from unauthorised access when in use and in storage and the data must be protected from inadvertent destruction, amendment or corruption.

  • Personal electronic data should be subject to appropriate stringent controls, such as passwords, encryption, access logs, backup, etc.
  • Screens, printouts, documents, and files showing personal data should not be visible to unauthorised persons.
  • Personal manual data must be held securely in locked cabinets, locked rooms or rooms with limited access.
  • Subject to retention guidelines, personal manual data should be destroyed by confidential shredding when the retention period has expired.
  • When upgrading or changing your personal computer, ensure the hard drive is cleaned by an appropriate IT staff member.
  • Special care must be taken where laptops and personal computers containing personal data are used outside the College.
  • Health and social work personal data can only be released following consultation with the relevant professional.
  • Disclosing personal data to a Data Processor should be done only under a written contract specifying security rules to be followed.

Accuracy and completeness of personal data

Administrative procedures should include review and audit facilities so that personal data are accurate, complete and kept up-to-date.

Retention of personal data

Data should not be kept for longer than is necessary for the purpose for which they were collected. Data already collected for a specific purpose should not be subject to further processing that is not compatible with the original purpose.

Disposal of personal data

Personal data should be disposed of when they are no longer needed for the effective functioning of the College and its members. The method of disposal should be appropriate to the sensitivity of the data. Shredding is appropriate in the case of manual data and reformatting or overwriting in the case of electronic data. Particular care should be taken when personal computers are transferred from one person to another or outside the College or are being disposed of.

Rights of data subjects

Right of access

The Acts provide for the right of access by the data subject to his or her personal information. Data subjects must be made aware of how to gain access to their personal data. A data subject is entitled to be made aware of his or her right of access and to the means by which to access the data. A data subject is entitled to the following on written application within one month:

  • a copy of his or her personal data;
  • the purpose of processing the data;
  • the persons to whom the College discloses the data;
  • an explanation of the logic used in any automated decision-making;
  • a copy of recorded opinions about the him or her, unless given in confidence.


Restriction of rights of access

The right of access is restricted where the data are:

  • required for the purpose of preventing, detecting or investigating offences, apprehending or prosecuting offenders, or assessing moneys due to the State;
  • subject to legal professional privilege;
  • kept only for statistical or research purposes and the results are not made available in a way that identifies data subjects;
  • back-up data.

Provision of access to third parties

A data subject is entitled to access his or her own personal data only. The personal information of a data subject, including confirmation of attendance at the College or contact details, must not be disclosed to a third party, be they parent, potential employer, employer, professional body, sponsor, etc., without the consent of the individual concerned.

An agreement may be made to forward a communication to a data subject on behalf of a third party, but no information should be disclosed about the data subject. In the case of research surveys where there is an agreement to forward documentation to data subjects, a notice should be included to the effect that no personal information has been released. The College should not engage in ‘mail hosting’ which is not relevant to its purposes.

Limitations on the use of personal data for research

All researchers, be they students or staff, involved in collecting personal data, especially sensitive personal data, must comply with the requirements of the Acts. Initially, they must ensure that data are obtained and processed fairly. It is essential that the necessary consent from data subjects is obtained. Whenever possible, personal data should be rendered anonymous.

The Acts require that personal data shall be kept only for one or more specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and shall not be further processed in a manner incompatible with those. This restriction may limit the usefulness of data for research purposes. If personal data are made anonymous, however, they cease to be personal data subject to the terms of the Acts.

In addition, certain data protection rules are relaxed for personal data kept for statistical, research or other scientific purposes, so long as the data are not used in a way that may harm the data subject. The rules in question being the restrictions on further processing personal data that is incompatible with the original purpose, on not keeping data longer than necessary for the purpose and on not disclosing the purpose when the data were obtained. It should be noted that if research data are retained in personally identifiable format they may be subject to an access request from a data subject and are subject to restrictions on the transfer of data outside the European Economic Area.

Right of rectification or erasure

Data subjects have a right to have personal data rectified, or blocked from being processed, or erased where the data controller has contravened the Acts. In order to comply with the above rights of access, rectification or erasure, ensure that personal data can be located and collated quickly and efficiently:

  • ensure personal data are in a format that is easy to locate and collate;
  • verify that the access request and the personal data released refer to the same individual;
  • know exactly what data are held on individuals, and by whom;
  • hold personal data in a secure central location.

Responsibilities of data subjects

  • All staff, students and other data subjects should be informed of how to keep their personal data up to date.
  • All staff, students and other data subjects are responsible for:

- checking that any information that they provide to the College is accurate and up to date;
- informing the College of any changes in information that they have provided, such as changes of address;
- checking the information the College sends out from time to time, giving details of information kept and processed;
- informing the College of any errors or changes (the College cannot be held responsible for any errors unless previously informed).

7. Further information

These guidelines are intended as a general introduction and are not an authoritative interpretation of the law. Extensive information is available from the Data Protection Commission website,

If you have any queries or require clarification on any aspect of this document, please contact Data Protection Officer, by post to the Secretary’s Office, West Theatre, Trinity College, by telephone to (01) 896 8486, or by email

Note: The term 'College' is used for brevity in this document but should be taken as referring to the University of Dublin, Trinity College.