For PTAsocial Members: Your Data on PTAsocial

As a member of your school PTA, you may be wondering how PTAsocial will treat your personal data, especially in light of the EU GDPR regulations (May 2018). Hopefully this article will clarify things for you and provide some reassurance. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us at :)

The General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) provides the following rights for individuals:

  1. The right to be informed

  2. The right of access

  3. The right to rectification

  4. The right to erasure

  5. The right to restrict processing

  6. The right to data portability

  7. The right to object

  8. Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling.

PTAsocial acts as a Data Processor, as your PTA members add themselves and others to our system. We simply process the data that is input as requested. The community manager(s) from your PTA (usually the PTA Chairperson or an appointed committee member) acts as the Data Controller and has responsibility for ensuring the data is current and relevant.

Your PTA Community Managers also have a responsibility not to abuse the system by sending too many emails to members, and ensuring that information send to members is timely and relevant. When they signed up to use PTAsocial, they agreed to our Terms and Privacy Policy, as do you and other members when you join.

So here’s how we cater for your rights in PTAsocial:

When you self-register on PTAsocial, your first name, last name, email address are stored,  and optionally your phone number and relationship with the school (e.g. school parent, or parent of Josie Bloggs in Red Class).

If you are invited by another member, what happens next depends whether you had already given them permission to add you (i.e. have opted in previously). We do keep track of who invited you too, so it's clear who added you.

Your Consent

You may have already signed a paper form asking to be added to the PTA mailing list. If your school PTA is using PTAsocial to communicate with parents, then this is why you have been added.

We previously allowed the inviter to simply tick a checkbox to indicate that prior permission had been gained. However, as part of the GDPR changes we are taking it a step further and ask them to record how and when they obtained your permission. We then provide you with this information when we send you the invitation email, allowing you to dispute any unsolicited opt-ins immediately and remove yourself if you don’t want to join.

Some schools or PTAs might decide to use ‘Legitimate interest’ as a reason for adding you to the PTA communications system, assuming that as a parent of the school, you would like to be kept informed of PTA events and news affecting your child. You might agree this is fair, but if not, you can easily remove yourself using the ‘Edit preferences’ link in any email you receive from PTAsocial.

If invited without prior consent

It may be that your school PTA sends an invitation to you asking if you’d like to join their online PTAsocial community. At PTAsocial we’ve always believed you should only be properly added to our system if you have opted in.

So if they do not indicate that you have given them your permission, we operate a ‘fire-and-forget’ policy. This means we send the invitation to you, but then do not store your email address in a usable format. So we can’t see it, even if we try!

This means that you will not receive any updates that the PTA sends out, UNLESS you accept their invitation, OR self-register with your online community, meaning you want in.

If you discover that you are being repeatedly added without your consent or even against your will, please notify the data controller (your PTA) to let them know you do not wish to be added. If this problem persists, please notify support so we can assist you.

What we store

Your first name, last name, email address (if opted in) are stored, as well as phone number and relationship  (if provided). 

We don’t display your email address to other members, but do display your name (only to other logged in members). This is because the event organisers may want to assign you to a task (presumably that you’ve agreed to!), so if your name is not visible, nobody will know who has volunteered! There is also a record of who assigned you, so there is accountability.

Additionally you can edit your profile page to add a photo, and a short bio to introduce yourself.

Who can see your details

Rest assured that PTAsocial protects your privacy and keeps your data safe and encrypted.

Phone numbers are only ever visible to community managers or event managers (i.e. whoever has been assigned to manage an event you have volunteered for, just because they are handy on event day if they need to give you a quick buzz.)

Your email address and relationship details are only shown to Community Managers (usually the PTA Chairperson or possibly some Committee members too) on a restricted page.

Since PTAsocial provides a private and secure community for your PTA, only active pre-vetted members will even be able to log in and view events, tasks, names of attendees and helpers, or message wall posts. These are not accessible to the public.

When you RSVP, purchase a ticket, volunteer, are assigned to a task, or to manage an activity or event, or post a message on a wall, then your name will be visible to other logged-in members who are viewing the relevant item.

If a logged-in member visits your profile page, they will just see your name, image and bio, but not your email address. They may also be able to send you a private message, unless you have switched off this capability in your community preferences (accessed from your profile page). 

When a logged-in member uses the private messaging feature, they can search for your name in order to send you a private message. Your name will only appear if you are either active or have been invited as an opted-in member.

How your data is used

When you have RSVP’d for an event, or bought a ticket, volunteered or written a message post via PTAsocial, this will be associated with your member record.

We'll list your name against the event, activity, task or message as described above, only displayed to active or opted-in members of your private community.

We may provide further reports to your PTA Community Managers about general trends in their community or possible across all our customer communities in general, however this is anonymised and does not use any personal data.

Giving you control

By using PTAsocial instead of a regular group email for example, you have more control, e.g. you can remove yourself from a group message thread by using the 'unfollow' button on a message wall or private group conversation.

Making communications more relevant

When you have volunteered for a particular task, activity or event, managers can send messages to just the specific people involved. If you later change your mind and remove yourself, you will automatically stop receiving updates.

Similarly, if you are late joining a message conversation, you will start to receive all further replies (unless you switch them off by unfollowing). This can often be a problem when using email groups - but with PTAsocial, the most current up-to-date list of helpers is always used. 

You can also edit your notification preferences from your profile page to say whether you want to be emailed when different types of messages are posted in PTAsocial, or whether you would rather just log in regularly to see what’s new.

Amending your details

When you are invited, if your name has been misspelled, you can immediately correct it when accepting the invitation.

Once you are an active member (i.e. you have accepted an invitation or been approved to join after registering yourself), you can go to your profile page anytime and edit your name, bio or profile image.

Previously you could only change your email address by contacting support. However, as part of GDPR changes, for added convenience we are making it easier for you to update your contact email address yourself from your profile page. (It will include a verification step to ensure you can only change the email address to a valid one that is actually yours!)

Removing your details

You can remove yourself from your online PTAsocial community by visiting your profile page and editing your Community preferences, choosing to "Leave". As it is possible to be a member of multiple communities at once (e.g. if you have kids in several schools), you need to remove yourself from each community that you wish to leave. If there is only one last active community, when you leave it, your email address will be removed altogether.

When you leave a community, your name will still be displayed on existing pages where you previously volunteered, RSVP’d, bought tickets or wrote message posts. This is to maintain continuity for remaining members of the community, although it will no longer be possible for you to be assigned to any tasks, or sent messages via PTAsocial. If you object to having your name displayed in that private community, please contact support to anonymise your former actions and posts.

Profiling for Advertising and Sponsorship

The general demographic of the school (e.g. location, age range of school children) may be shared with potential advertisers and sponsors. However no personal details of any individuals are used in this way.

Your data is in good hands

We hope this reassures you that we are safeguarding your data and using it in an appropriate manner to help you get the most out of your school experience, get to know your fellow school parents in a safe and welcoming environment and join in the fundraising efforts to make your child's school the best it can be.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact support for assistance.