Lobby group accused of asking supporters to secretly film teachers in online lessons

A new parents group which campaigns against the Covid lockdown of schools, has been accused of asking supporters to covertly record live online classes by Scotland’s largest teaching union, and warned it could face legal action.

A parents group has been asked to "cease and desist" from filming live online classes.
A parents group has been asked to "cease and desist" from filming live online classes.

The Educational Institute of Scotland has written to UsForThem Scotland to demand it halts asking for virtual lessons to be recorded as it was causing “alarm and distress” to teachers during a time of “unprecedented stress and uncertainty”.

A letter from EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan to the UsForThem leadership team states that recording online lessons is a breach of both data regulations and teachers’ privacy and that legal action could be taken.

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However the organisation said it never encouraged any parents to record lessons and has demanded the EIS show evidence to prove its allegation.

Mr Flanagan said the EIS had been contacted “by a number of our members who have expressed concern about requests being made by UsForThem of its supporters, to monitor various aspects of home learning and to provide it with recordings of virtual lessons”.

His letter states: “The EIS has not been contacted by UsForThem for consent to share recordings in this regard and similarly, is not aware of any formal requests having been received by any of our members.

“As you will be aware recording and monitoring of individuals has a number of privacy and data protection implications. First EIS members delivering home learning have a reasonable expectation of privacy … they would not expect that recorded footage of them would be shared and then published/used for a purpose other than home learning by pupils.

"Secondly, under Article 6(i) of the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] as a data controller you must have a legal basis for processing personal data (such as video recordings). We do not believe that you have a legal basis for monitoring and/or sharing footage of our members without their express consent.

“For avoidance of doubt, unless a member expressly confirms otherwise, EIS members do not consent to the processing and/or publication of their personal data (including video recordings).”

He goes on to say that publication of footage of online classes represents a “breach of their right to privacy and data protection rights and is actionable in law against UsForThem or the individual who recorded and shared the footage, and UsForThem may therefore be encouraging individuals to break the law and expose themselves to the possibility of legal action.”

However Jo Bisset, organiser for UsForThem Scotland, said: “We’ve received the letter from the EIS and will be responding asking them to provide evidence of the claims made, because we certainly can’t find any.

“At no point has UsForThem Scotland asked parents to record and distribute online lessons. Our page [on Facebook] is completely public and open – anyone in the world can go on there and see everything that’s been said.

“We want to work with parents and teachers to ensure the best possible standard of education for children in Scotland.”

UsForThem is a new lobby group which has branches in all four nations of the UK and says it campaigns on “matters impacting children’s welfare” and to “fight policy decisions which are detrimental to children.” This has included keeping schools open during the pandemic.

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