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Coronavirus: Education minister seeks to allay data protection fears

The teleconference with Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou (bottom right) data protection commissioner Irini Loizidou Nicolaidou and deputy minister for research and innovation Kyriakos Kokkinos

Education minister Prodromos Prodromou on Wednesday said no rights had been violated in the implementation of the ministry’s distance learning programme.

He was speaking after a teleconference with data protection commissioner Irini Loizidou Nicolaidou and deputy minister for research and innovation Kyriakos Kokkinos amid concerns over personal data and privacy.

Kokkinos explained the specifications of the programmes and the conditions in place for them being used safely. He also noted that the government will work with external councils for additional safety.

Prodromou briefed the commissioner about preparations being made for comprehensive regulating legislation to cover remote learning.

It is understood that Nicolaidou is expected to publish her findings on the distance learning programme no later than Friday.

She has previously said that her office was not consulted prior to teachers being instructed to use cameras in the classroom. She also raised the issue that no guidelines proving the need for cameras during distance learning were submitted.

“The issue was not only the lack of consultation but the legal basis of the processing,” she said.

Teaching unions have also been involved in the dispute.

 President of Oelmek, the secondary school union, also raised the issue of privacy within the classroom being infringed upon if lessons are being broadcast online.

“There are children in the classroom, asking questions and getting up to write on the blackboard and so those at home will have to see this, but then you never know who is hiding on the other side,” said president of Oelmek, Costas Hadjisavvas.

“You cannot force any teacher to be recorded,” vice president of primary school teachers’ union, Apostolos Skouroupatis, told the Cyprus Mail on Tuesday. “It is a personal data violation.”

Separately on Wednesday, Prodromou also held a call with the commissioner for the protection of children’s rights Despo Michaelidou and other relevant officials.

He made special note of the efforts being made to assist children who had issues relating to internet connection and limited use of electronic devices.


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