As international schools in Thailand continue to globalise and collaborate with institutions worldwide, transferring student data across borders has become a common practice. However, with the enactment of Thailand’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), schools must tread carefully to ensure that cross border transfers comply with the law and safeguard students’ personal information privacy.
This article provides insights into how international schools can meet the requirements of the Thailand PDPA when transferring student data to other countries.
Understanding Cross-Border Data Transfers under PDPA
The PDPA applies to the processing of personal data both within and outside of Thailand’s borders. This means that international schools must be cautious when transferring student data to other countries, as the law’s principles remain applicable. The PDPA mandates that any transfer of personal data outside of Thailand must adhere to certain requirements to ensure the protection of individuals’ rights and privacy.
Step 1: Identify the Legal Basis for Transfer
Before initiating any cross-border data transfer, international schools should identify a legitimate legal basis for the transfer under the PDPA. This could include obtaining explicit consent from students or their legal guardians, entering into a contract that includes appropriate data protection clauses, or ensuring that the transfer is necessary for the performance of a contract between the student and the school.
Step 2: Assess the Destination Country’s Data Protection Standards
International schools should thoroughly assess the data protection standards in the destination country. It’s important to ensure that the level of data protection in that country is comparable to or higher than that provided by the Thailand PDPA. If the destination country has less stringent data protection laws, the school should implement additional safeguards to protect student data, such as encryption or anonymization.
Step 3: Implement Data Transfer Mechanisms
To facilitate compliant cross-border data transfers, international schools can consider implementing recognized data transfer mechanisms, such as Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) approved by relevant authorities. SCCs are contractual clauses that ensure a consistent level of data protection when transferring data to countries without an adequate level of protection. By using SCCs, schools can establish a legal framework that safeguards student data throughout the transfer process.
Step 4: Provide Transparency to Students and Guardians
Transparency is key when transferring student data across borders. Schools should inform students and their legal guardians about the intended data transfer, including the purpose of the transfer, the destination country, and the safeguards in place to protect the data. Providing this information builds trust and allows individuals to make informed decisions about their personal data.
Step 5: Maintain Records and Accountability
International schools should maintain accurate records of cross-border data transfers, including the legal basis for transfer, the safeguards implemented, and the details of the destination country. This accountability demonstrates the school’s commitment to compliance with the PDPA and serves as evidence in case of regulatory inquiries.
Transferring student data across borders can greatly benefit international schools, fostering collaboration and enriching educational experiences. However, compliance with the Thailand PDPA must remain a priority to protect students’ privacy rights. By identifying a legal basis, assessing destination country standards, using appropriate data transfer mechanisms, ensuring transparency, and maintaining records, international schools can navigate cross-border data transfers while upholding the principles of the PDPA. This balanced approach ensures that student data remains secure and respects the evolving landscape of data protection laws.
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