Data protectors?



11484777313_faf91f9ca7_bLast week I ran a Twitter poll, prompted by something I saw in an edu chat reference SEND children.  However I feel a lot of people confused my question with working practices instead of looking at the question from a data protection angle.

In my previous career I had, at times, responsibility for lots of data, some of it classified, some of it personal.  The overriding factor though was that we had a responsibility over this data, including who could have access to it – the “Need to Know” principle.  The central tenet to this was that you could not process data that was either classified or about another person on personal IT equipment.

Given that a lot of our communication is now by email and that a lot of the edu world seem to be carrying out this communication on their own devices, is it time we took a look at the harsh realities of the Data Protection Act with fresh eyes?

I can be as guilty as the next person here – my school does not give out devices to be used at home; they are a luxury that our small setting cannot afford.  Hence I am often to be found logging onto my work email from my personal laptop.  Here though is where I am careful not to refer to any children by name.  This data would be on my laptop and could pose a breach of the Data Protection Act if it were to fall into the wrong hands.

“So what?” I hear you cry. “We couldn’t do our jobs without this data” would be another legitimate complaint.  Put yourselves on the other side of the conversation.  Someone is exchanging emails about your capabilities and failings using their normal email account.  Then their laptop goes missing and gets into the hands of someone who you may want to employ you in the future…

Nobody is saying don’t use email from personal devices.  Merely think before you type.  If it is something sensitive about somebody, maybe that you would keep in a SEND file locked up in school, then think twice about processing it on your own laptop.  Maybe just stay in school that extra 15 minutes to write it.

Now if we look at workload too, then we can open a whole different can of worms…

(Image from flikr.com)


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