Challenging the Department for Education real-time data collection

by Defend Digital Me

Challenging the Department for Education real-time data collection

by Defend Digital Me
Defend Digital Me
Case Owner
defenddigitalme is a call to action to protect children’s rights to privacy. We are teachers and parents who campaign for safe, fair and transparent data processing in education, in England.
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Defend Digital Me
Case Owner
defenddigitalme is a call to action to protect children’s rights to privacy. We are teachers and parents who campaign for safe, fair and transparent data processing in education, in England.
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What's going on? In January 2022 the Department for Education ("DfE") announced it had begun an expansion of the collection of personal confidential data about children in England, in real-time, through the company Wonde acting as 'middle-man'. We believe it is excessive, unnecessary and not proportionate.

Who are we? defenddigitalme is a call to action to protect children’s rights to privacy. We are teachers and parents who campaign for safe, fair and transparent data processing in education, in England, and beyond.

Summary.

The Information Commissioner's Office ("ICO") has released documents, showing that when the data collection started the DfE had not yet worked with the ICO. Nor had the DfE completed and signed off any Data Protection Impact Assessment, despite the DfE having told schools it had already done both. The Office of the ICO asked the Department to pause the high risk data collection, and carry out the assessment. The Department declined to pause.

The DfE’s initial response to us has confirmed that the daily attendance data is likely to be used to support legal interventions, including issuing fixed penalty notices and prosecuting parents. The DfE’s response also leaves important questions hanging regarding how daily pupil data could be used in future phases of the project and who it could be shared with 

The ICO went on to document a wide range of concerns described in over 10 A4 pages, including about the 66 year data retention period (just like the Schools Bill). 

At the time of writing, the DfE does not appear to have made any changes to meet any of those ICO concerns. And the DfE seems to be carrying on, business as usual, much as it did after its 2020 ICO audit.

We are very concerned at the lack of care and attention paid before starting a new national data collection that includes highly sensitive data from children, and which poses risks to the fundamental rights and freedoms of pupils at scale.

Call to action. We are raising funds to pay for our legal work with data rights team at AWO. We need your support: please contribute and share this page now.

What is the next step in the case? Our legal team at data rights agency AWO is continuing to correspond with the DfE with a view to us pursuing further action.

How much we are raising and why? We're starting with £6,000 for the next stages of the legal challenge.

Thank you.

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