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UPDATE: Student protests against sharing of personal details

UPDATE: Student protests against sharing of personal details

Photographer:Fotograaf: flickr.com/Blue Coat Photos

MAASTRICHT. The UM provides personal details of students to external parties such as Flycatcher and Studiekeuze 123. Is that allowed? And if so, why are students not informed about this and asked for their permission? FHML student Patrick Pilipiec has demanded access to university documents on the basis of the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act. The UM has meanwhile let the deadline pass, under penalty for non-compliance.

Pilipiec understands that, as a student, he needs to provide his personal details, but “not for those to end up in marketeers' databases. I can't remember giving the UM permission to pass on my personal details to a third party. Not just e-mail addresses, but also initials, first names and surnames, study programmes, study years, and the name of the institute where you are studying, are shared with external parties.”

The FHML student refers to parties such as Flycatcher (that carries out satisfaction surveys at the UM), Studiekeuze 123 (that distributes the National Student Survey questionnaire), and market research bureau GfK. “The latter bureau carries out the Student Survey and is part of a German company, which could mean that personal information is processed and stored according to different legislation.”

Pilipiec sent a letter to the Executive Board with a reference to the Personal Data Protection Act. He requests an overview of the personal details and the organisations with which the UM shares this information. Moreover, the organisations concerned should immediately delete Pilipiec's details. The UM is compelled to respond to this request for inspection within four weeks.

Security officer Bart van den Heuvel, also the official for data protection, had previously informed Pilipiec in an e-mail that the UM always draws up a so-called “processing agreement” with external parties. “This states that e-mail addresses may only be used for the purpose indicated by the UM and certainly not be used for commercial objectives.” If such does happen, he says later on by telephone, then that is a breach of contract. “High fines apply.”

By now, it has become clear that the UM has failed to respond within the required term; the deadline expired last Tuesday. Payment of a penalty for non-compliance will be the next step. Pilipiec: “Ultimately, the court could force the UM to respond.”

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