The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said that the importance of data privacy and access to official information should be embedded in school lessons.

The ICO is developing a research project to explore ways of making sure information rights issues are covered in primary and secondary education, to back up its stance.

Jonathan Bamford, head of strategic liaison at the ICO, said: “Young people today are growing up in an age where an ever increasing amount of information is held about them. It is vital that they understand their privacy rights and how to exercise them."

Bamford said that from being aware of their rights to access information, young people would feel more empowered to ask important questions about the things that matter to them, like university tuition fees or the environment.

The research project aims to ensure that young people, through the education system, are aware of the threats to their privacy and how to protect themselves, and also understanding the practical and legal safeguards that can help them.

The ICO is now inviting tenders for a research partner to help examine the current landscape and make recommendations.

The ICO recently found a school in Hampshire in breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA), after the personal details of nearly 20,000 people were put at risk when the school’s website was hacked. According to the ICO Bay House School saw computer hackers, including at least one of its own pupils, accessing the school’s internal information management system via an attack on the school’s remotely-hosted website.