As longstanding, longsuffering readers will be aware, for the past year and a bit, I have been arguing that the Primary Online Database (POD) was illegal. Though that argument has not come to a conclusion (and I expect it to be successful) the Department of Education has been forced into a series of climbdowns along the way.
The documents below were withheld by the Department of Education following an FOI request. The Department produced an array of reasons for their refusal to release the below docs, which the Office of the Information Commissioner ultimately decided were invalid.
The Information Commissioner’s office has now published their binding decision in my appeal against the Department of Educations and Skill’s refusal to release certain documents relating to POD to me on foot of an FOI request. With the exception of one document (of which more shortly) all of the Department of Education’s refusals have been overturned.
I did respond to the email set out earlier this week, where the Dept of Education said. .
I made a complaint regarding the treatment of Junior Infants data by the Department of Education in their latest effort to make their Primary Online Database legal. I received no substantial response, and so I forwarded the complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner. After that, I received the reply below.
Complaint regarding the legality of the current Primary Online Database scheme as it applies to Junior Infants
Dear Sirs, I am writing to you to object to operation of the Primary Online Database scheme as it applies to Junior Infant students.
Ever since the introduction of the Primary Online Database of schoolchildren by the Department of Education, the Department and its Minister have been eager to point out that any parent who refused to allow a child’s data to be transferred would see that child’s education defunded. Well, for all children other than this week’s crop of new Junior Infants, that threat has now collapsed.
The misbegotten Primary Online Database project is on its third piece of legislation designed to try to make it legal. On the 21st July, The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton signed a Ministerial Order seeking to try to provide a legislative basis for the transfer of children’s data from schools to the Department of Education. You can take a look at SI 317 of 2015 here.
Department of Education refuses FOI regarding database of children because it would reveal their position
Rather missing the point of an FOI Act, the Department of Education has refused to release documents relating to the Primary Online Database- which the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office has confirmed is operating without proper legal basis.