The UK’s data watchdog has now informed schools that they do not need to abandon leading cloud services, despite fears over legality.
This new statement follows an email which was sent to educators in a London borough by their IT chief, advising them to stop using Dropbox and other applicable cloud products. This is after a ruling by Europe’s top court declared a system used to authorise personal data transfers in the US invalid.
In a statement to the BBC, the ICO said that:
“No new and immediate threat to individuals’ personal data that’s suddenly arisen that we need to act quickly to prevent. Organisations, including schools, are right to be keeping up to date on the law, but we’re not advising people to rush to make changes at this stage.”
Safe harbour confusion
Confusion over what is and is not permitted caused Lewisham Council’s information and communications technology chief to email colleagues last week, stating that:
“If you still use Dropbox as a quick-win cloud storage solution for your school please consider that recent changes in rulings regarding the validity of the Safe Harbour Agreement means that data stored outside the EU is now officially at risk for EU based Data Owners – ie schools in the UK!” wrote Neil Iles.
“Please do consider the prompt migration of your data away from Dropbox or other non-EU cloud data services (watch out for iPad Apps that store data in the cloud too!) Currently your data and your ability to demonstrate compliance with the Data Protection Act are at risk by using these non-EU services.”
The Information commissioner’s office, however, is now telling schools to ‘hold fire’.