The Malta Independent 25 May 2024, Saturday
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Parents of students in Church schools express concern on privacy issues

Malta Independent Tuesday, 8 April 2014, 16:08 Last update: about 11 years ago

The Association of Parents of Children in Church Schools (APCCS) expressed concern about the use and protection of personal data of students and their relatives.

The APCCS is seriously concerned about the contents of Legal Notice 76 of 2014. LN 76/2014 gives the Minister responsible for Education and Employment the right to obtain personal information and data about every student and his/her realtives in any educational institution, that is “any childcare, school or other institution or entity offering education, whether at a pre-primary, primary, secondary, post-secondary or tertiary level and also includes further and higher educational institutions and institutions offering formal and non-formal learning and vocational education”.

As indicated in the Legal Notice, “the data which may be required shall include data relating to age, sex, ability, educational attainments and other data of the persons to whom they relate as appear to the Minister to be necessary to be used for research purposes”. The APCCS is gravely concerned that this Legal Notice gives wide powers to the Minister for access to personal information and very sensitive data.

The term “research purposes” is not otherwise better defined and can be potentially interpreted very widely. Contrary to normal practice when research in the field is carried out, the Legal Notice does not give room to consent to or any possibility to opt-out to the persons concerned and their relatives. There are no indications as to the correct use of this information and data, the assurance of anonimity, the ethical considerations involved, and other important parameters that need to be seriously considered. Statistical research does not necessarily require the use of personally identifiable data that is protected by law.

It is also specified that “Any person who fails to comply with any request made under this article shall be guilty of an offence against the Act.” This could potentially violate both the right of privacy and also the autonomy of Church schools. The Legal Notice does not provide for any checks and balances for the use of this power.

The APCCS seriously hopes that LN 76/2014 will be repealed in order to ensure the protection of data and information of all students in Malta and their relatives, and that control on how personal and sensitive data can be used is ensured.

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