November 17 2023

Privacy by design can create safer schools

We all want a safe and secure digital environment in our schools. At the same time, parents want a smooth digital operation with easy access to information. How can we find a balance between ease of use and high privacy standards? How can we create a privacy by design perspective in digital innovation?

This was the topics for a Junglemap webinar with panelists Wanda Hoogerbrugge, privacy advisor at Privacy op School B.V, Christian Landgren, CEO at Stockholm based iTeam and Arno van den Hof, Country Manager Junglemap Benelux and Cybersecurity expert.

Low privacy awareness

The Dutch consultancy firm Privacy op School is now working towards 10 percent of the schools in the Netherlands with data from over half a million students. The main challenges that Wanda Hoogerbrugg meet as a privacy advisor is a low overall awareness, lack of understanding and a lack of resources. Many schools are under staffed, and teachers have an increasing work load to deal with as it is. Dealing with privacy issues tend to become ‘yet another thing to deal with’.

Privacy (misconceptions) hampers innovation

Christian Landgren shares lessons learned from the work with Öppna skolplattformen, where he together with other parents with school children built a digital platform in open source using the API from the city of Stockholm. This was mistaken for a data breach and led to an open conflict where the city of Stockholm ended up filing a police report. 

Today, three years later, both parties are on speaking terms again, and according to Christian Landgren, the whole incident was partly due to a misconception or misinterpretation of GDPR and privacy.

He also acknowledges that there is a general privacy backlog due to the fact that internet and digitalization started off with no privacy concerns in mind, and that we often are still trying to catch up.

But whenever privacy comes as a request late in the innovation process, it ‘always means no’ says Christian Landgren. This is why a privacy centered design is so much needed.

Put the user in focus

To Arno van den Hof, a privacy by design approach is not that hard to achieve. It’s all about putting the user in focus and always ask what the benefit of the new app or service is, and what privacy issues might be at stake.

With that in mind the innovation should focus around what’s needed, rather than ‘what’s possible’. Christian Landgren often see that many organisations focus on being able to say that they are innovating, rather than thinking of the use of the innovation. ‘We call it innovation theatre’, he says. And we don’t participate in those kind of projects.

Open source collaboration

The panelists all agree that a privacy by design perspective is the only way forward. One way to go forward is by starting in small test-projects with limited potential harm if anything goes wrong, rather than trying to ‘solve everything’. But even small projects need to be divided between different collaborating partners if both innovation and privacy aspects are taken into account. From an innovation perspective Christian Landgren highlights open source as a good tool for cooperation.

November 17 2023