CBSE seeks ‘optional’ but irrelevant, personal data of parents

By: Admin 07 August, 2018

A CBSE form, meant for recording progress of students in the newly introduced health and physical education subject, is surprisingly collecting 'optional' and irrelevant data about parents. The CBSE form seeks parent's Aadhaar number, blood group, weight, height, birth year and monthly income. The footnote on the page mentions that schools don't have to send this optional data to CBSE, and they alone would be responsible for its protection. With data privacy being a much discussed issue in the country, it's not surprising that schools are perplexed.

"Why did CBSE put those fields in the form is beyond me," said a principal who did not wish to be identified. "CBSE says data is optional and even if parents provide it, schools should not send it. Then why collect it in the first place? she said.

Another principal that TOI spoke to said that some of the data was already with schools, but this particular form stretches it too far. "The child's Aadhaar number is already with us and even self-declaration of family income, but seeking sensitive data from parents defies logic. It's a health card to track the child's progress from Std IX-XII, so knowing the mother's Aadhaar number and blood group are irrelevant," said the principal.

Another senior principal said that it maybe related to some kind of survey. "It's optional for now but maybe it is meant for some survey or is purely a data gathering exercise for policy decisions. Unless that's the purpose, seeking such data does not make sense," she said.

So while CBSE can easily take a higher moral ground saying it not only marked it 'optional' but also made it clear that schools should not share it with them, principals are worried about the privacy risks. CBSE's footnote on the HA card format clearly puts the onus of protecting privacy on schools. "I am not going to risk keeping Aadhaar number of thousands of parents and then someone allege that it has been misused," said a principal.

Lawyer Mahendra Limaye, a cyber law expert, said this can turn out to be a risky proposition for schools. "If schools start collecting the data then they are legally responsible for its safety. "If schools start collecting the data then they are legally responsible for its safety. If anybody hacks into their database then thousands of parents will find their data leaked or maybe sold. Also health related information of any child is very confidential and who it is being shared with or who has access to it is a major issue" said Limaye.

 

Source: Times of India