Trojan POD? – the plot thickens

Tweet by Simon McGarr (@Tupp_Ed)

Trojan Horse

I wrote to the data protection commissioner last week following a response from my local school after I highlighted my concerns about the purposes of the Primary Online Database (POD), issues with consent and the excessive length of time all data will be stored. I felt none of these issues had been sufficiently addressed in the circular sent out by schools when they did request consent to information on ethnicity and religion.

I used the phrase ‘trojan horse’ in the letter when I described POD.

POD is, in my opinion, like a trojan horse, an apparently innocuous database with a hidden agenda

I did not know last week, when I was writing those words, what would surface over the weekend.

Louise O’Keeffe vs. The State

Dublin based solicitor Simon McGarr and other equally talented data protection specialists unearthed a troubling timeline. The genesis of which was the 2008 Louise O’Keefe action against the state;

in Dec 2008 the Supreme Court ruled against Ms O’Keeffe’s claim that the State had a liability for her abuse at school, the Government moved in heavily on other paedophile victims to scare them off taking similar legal action

Irish Examiner, ‘Kenny should apologise for hounding abuse victims’, Feb, 2014.

Thankfully, Louise had the strength to proceed to the European Court of Human Rights.


So the ECHR found the state liable for abuse suffered in state schools. How did the Department react? It came up with a student database with an excessive data retention policy to defend against possible future litigation.

At the top of this post you will see one of Simon’s excellent tweets discussing possible reasoning for the excessive retention times.

This handout quoted was part of a presentation in 2014 called Data Protection for Schools. Section 3.3.2 deals with record retention;

The time period may be tied to a statutory provision requiring an employer to keep certain information for a minimum period (eg. time-sheets etc), or may be tied to protecting the legitimate interests of the school (eg. to defend litigation).

So it seems, according to this information given out to schools that POD will keep data on students for a minimum of thirty years to protect ‘the legitimate interests of the school‘ specifically; ‘to defend litigation‘.

This was not on the information letter sent out by schools.

As a parent, am I not entitled to all the relevant information before I consent to my child’s information being held on POD.

More, I’m sure, to follow.

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