Challenge allowed to details held on database

Students unhappy with the Department of Education holding their personal details on a controversial new database long after they’ve left school will be able to challenge the practice when they turn 18 — but that won’t guarantee their records are erased.

The primary online database currently being compiled by the department seeks to gather personal, family, and educational information on children from the time they start school until they turn 30.

Under the arrangement, some data will also be shared with other state bodies such as the Department of Social Protection, the Central Statistics Office, the Child and Family Agency, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The department has clarified that if the database goes ahead as planned, students will be able to request that their details be removed by making a written objection to the department, explaining their concerns, once they become adults.

Under data protection legislation, the department would be obliged to act within 40 days to either remove the records or explain the reasons for not doing so.

But the department would not say what its attitude to such requests would be, saying: “The department will fully consider and respond to any such cases in the future.”

The only part students will have an absolute right to withdraw will be details about their religion.

The department said: “Religion is considered sensitive personal data and is only stored with written consent.”

The department also revealed it has not yet drawn up protocols for the sharing of data with other state bodies.

In response to criticisms that the plan to retain the information up to the age of 30 was excessive, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said was open to reviewing it but she shows no sign of making a speedy move.



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