Bern data protection official does not want WhatsApp in schools

06/09/2022, 10:47 AM06/09/2022, 10:54 AM

Last year, the Bern data protection official intervened over the controversial cell phone messaging service WhatsApp at the Berne School Board. I have come to the conclusion that WhatsApp cannot be used for school purposes as per the data protection regulations. This is because the address data will be sent to the USA.

As evidenced by the 2021 Activity Report published this week by Stadtbern Ombuds and Data Protection Office, the Data Protection Officer was asked Whether a teacher in Bern can use WhatsApp as a class conversation.

The person seeking advice from the data protection authority has raised the issue in relation to the amended General Terms and Conditions of the Application.

What does the data protection officer recommend?

Then the data protection officer implemented the clarifications. I also came to the conclusion that the consent of all the people in the chat group was not enough to use WhatsApp in compliance with the data protection regulations. This is because all the data of the people listed in the phone book will be sent to the operator of WhatsApp.

Following the intervention of a data protection officer, all school principals in Bern were directed not to use WhatsApp in their schools to conduct class chats or communicate with parents. The most privacy-friendly app is the best “most important”.

Canton of Bern does not want to ban WhatsApp

As the Secretary-General of the Department of Education, Social and Sport of the City of Bern, Sven Baumann, said on Thursday, when asked, this intervention will be carried out by the Data Protection Officer of the City of Bern. “This is a commonly exhibited practice,” Bowman said. WhatsApp chats will no longer be used.

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The Cantonal Education and Culture Department (BKD) said upon request that it was not telling schools which messaging services they should use. No personal data should be exchanged via messaging services. “We recommend that messaging services be used exclusively for regulatory information,” writes BKD.

WhatsApp is an application offered by the US-based Meta Group on Facebook. The social media company controlled by Mark Zuckerberg is considered a “data octopus” and has been repeatedly defamed for its questionable handling of user data.

What else did the Bern data protection official do?

The The ombudsman of the city of Bern It defines itself as an independent and impartial point of contact for citizens, but also for city employees and companies. In the year under review, it handled a total of 647 cases and inquiries (previous year: 610). The number of whistleblowers nearly doubled from six to eleven.

According to the activity report, the number of personnel law cases remained at a high level. There were 46 compared to 42 the year before. They say that the reason for the increase is most likely the city’s saving measures and the epidemiological situation.

The data supervisory authority is committed to the responsible handling of information. Last year, it dealt with 157 cases and inquiries (the previous year: 133). Both agencies use several examples in the activity report to explain why they are called and how they are going.

The ombudsman’s office became active, for example, when a resident of Bern refused to participate in the vote counting over the election weekend due to fear of contracting the coronavirus. She was summoned by the city administration and contacted the ombudsman’s office.

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The Ombudsperson and Data Protection Officer for the City of Bern is lawyer and mediator Miriam Graf, who leads a team of eight. The report will be submitted to the Berne City Council.

Sources

(DSC/SDA)

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