Remote Teaching During the Emergency and Beyond: Four Open Privacy and Data Protection Issues of ‘Platformised’ Education

Authors: Chiara Angiolini, Rossana Ducato, Alexandra Giannopoulou, Giulia Schneider


Due to the spread of Covid-19 in the first months of 2020, almost all Universities across Europe had to close their buildings and migrate online. This rapid shift towards the provision of education online has been characterized by the externalization to and use of third-party service providers, such as Zoom, for ensuring the continuity of learning. The ‘platformisation’ of education, however, raises several concerns, especially from a privacy and data protection perspective. The aim of this paper is to map the possible data protection risks emerging from the platformisation of education by focusing on the most pressing points of friction with the European data privacy regime: 1) allocation of roles and responsibilities of the actors involved; 2) transparency of the processing and possibility to effectively exercise data subjects’ rights; 3) extra-EU data transfers after Schrems II; 4) challenges of e-proctoring systems. The paper argues that the implementation of the right to privacy and data protection in remote teaching is not merely an issue of compliance, but a substantial measure that Universities shall ensure to guarantee the fundamental rights of our students and colleagues. The paper concludes with recommendations for ensuring a safer and fairer remote teaching experience, also discussing long-term strategies beyond the emergency and beyond the mere compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Keywords: Privacy – Data protection – GDPR – EdTech – Emergency Remote Teaching – digital education – online platforms