Fact Check: Sale Of E-School Platform 'Shkolo' Does NOT Mean Bulgarian Students' Personal Data Will Be Misused

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  • от: Lead Stories автор
Fact Check: Sale Of E-School Platform 'Shkolo' Does NOT Mean Bulgarian Students' Personal Data Will Be Misused GDPR-Compliant

Is it true that the acquisition of the "Shkolo" e-platform, which supplies 70 percent of Bulgarian schools with electronic student e-diaries, will allow its new UK operator to misuse personal student data? No, this is not true: The Bulgarian educational platform Shkolo.bg was sold to British education technology company Juniper Education with assurances that operations will continue as usual and data will be treated under stringent European data protection and privacy laws.

The claim appeared in a TikTok video (archived here) published on January 18, 2024, with a caption, translated into English from Bulgarian by Lead Stories staff, that reads:

The sale of Shkolo.bg is very worrying news.

Bulgarian Socialist Party MP Irena Anastasova (archived here) says in comments also translated by Lead Stories staff:

The whole sensitive personal information is already in the hands of a foreign company... I do not think that the information about Bulgarian children should be in the hands of foreign companies and firms... I do not think that the Bulgarian state should allow such a thing.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-01-22 213058.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Jan 22 19:31:00 2024 UTC)

Social media posts in Bulgaria have repeated the false claim (archived here and here) that the British company Juniper Education will misuse the personal data of Bulgarian students. In another example (archived here) a post on Facebook on January 16, 2024, had the following caption, translated from Bulgarian to English by Lead Stories staff:

What is the Ministry of Education doing? A British company? Theft of the personal data of tens of thousands of students, parents, teachers, social security number, dates of birth, GPs, telephone numbers and addresses. The idiots planned it a long time ago, didn't they? It did not happen just like that...

Screenshot 2024-01-22 221145.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jan 22 20:11:47 2024 UTC)

The school management online platform Shkolo.bg. (archived here), which serves numerous schools in Bulgaria, was acquired (archived here) by the UK-based company Juniper Education (archived here) at the end of December 2023.

The Ministry of Education and Science, in coordination with the State Agency for National Security and the Commission for the Protection of Personal Data, requested information (archived here) on the acquisition, and on January 18, 2024, the Commission for Personal Data Protection (archived here) clarified (archived here) that the sale of "Shkolo" Ltd. to a British company did not affect its data protection obligations or its existing contracts with educational institutions.

It explained that the UK provides an adequate level of personal data protection, ensuring free movement of personal data from Bulgaria in the EU to the UK. Despite public concern, the commission sees no reason for alarm and has initiated an inspection of the case and it added:

The changes that have occurred should not become an occasion for spreading fake news, creating tension among large groups in society, including the extraction of various benefits by unscrupulous persons, aiming to further mislead and misdirect public opinion.

On January 18, 2024, the manager of Shkolo, Lyubomir Vanyov stated (archived here) on NOVA NEWS, as translated by Lead Stories staff:

"Shkolo" continues to function as before. There is no risk for the children's data, because the change in ownership does not change the agreed responsibilities, nor the Bulgarian and European legislation. Great Britain will not have access to the personal data of the Bulgarian children.

Cyber experts have confirmed (archived here) that student data in Bulgaria is protected under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which provides strict guidelines on how personal data should be handled and severe penalties for non-compliance. When the UK left the EU, they agreed to continue to apply the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with provisions of the EU GDPR incorporated directly into UK law (archived here) known as the UK GDPR.

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