Schools Told to Carry on Dropboxing Despite Safe Harbour Ruling

By Gary Cutlack on at

The Information Commissioner's Office has told UK schools that they're allowed to carry on using social media, Dropbox and the like despite the worries caused by the Safe Harbour ruling, with the ICO saying there's "no new and immediate threat" to the data schools might be sending to various US-based cloud servers.

The ICO was speaking to the BBC, and was trying to clear up some confusion triggered by an email sent to staff by Lewisham Council. An IT man at the council told staff 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!"

But that's not really true and is quite the dramatisation, says the ICO, which explained: "There's 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." 

If you're a bit bewildered by what this means, ICO Deputy Commissioner David Smith has spelled it all out in a blog post, where he says... lots of complicated things about data and the EU and businesses that you may read at your leisure. [ICO via BBC]