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Bob Geldof: new data protection law putting 'intolerable burden' on schools

Rock star chairs panel discussion about the General Data Protection Regulation at the world's biggest ed tech show

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Rock star chairs panel discussion about the General Data Protection Regulation at the world's biggest ed tech show

New data protection laws are placing an “intolerable burden” on schools, Bob Geldof has told an education technology conference.

The rock star and anti-poverty activist is a co-founder of Groupcall, a company set up in 2001, which provides “communication, data and identity management solutions to organisations within the education, business and public sectors”.

Mr Geldof chaired a panel about the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at the Bett Show in London on Wednesday.

The GDPR comes into effect on 25 May 2018, replacing the Data Protection Act, and introducing significantly greater fines for non-compliance.

Mr Geldof told delegates: “You have got until 25 May to be compliant. It’s not optional, and it is yet again putting an intolerable burden on schools to manage new technologies, new social ways of behaving.”

He added that every year he comes to Bett and raises the “onerous burdens” schools are facing.

Steve Baines, data protection officer at Groupcall, said he wanted to dismiss “myths” surrounding the new law, adding: “There has been a lot of scaremongering out there, people trying to make you buy things that you don’t need, because we have all got to worry.

“The big one is the fines: 20 million euros. Guys, it’s not going to happen. The [Information Commissioner’s Office] has never given a fine to a school, they’re not going to get big fines. They are there to persuade the big guys, Facebook, Microsoft, that they have to comply.

“You are not going to get bankrupted by fines from the ICO. They have got other things they can do instead.”

Read more on becoming GDPR compliant.

He added that schools would be right to worry about an increase in subject access requests from parents who want to see all the data they hold about their children, because under the GDPR schools could no longer charge money to do this.

Russell Holland, a barrister at Michelmores Solicitors, said that while some people were “scaremongering” about the GDPR, “it’s got to be taken seriously and you have got to be prepared”.

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