Global Privacy Dispatches - The Netherlands
By Richard van Staden ten Brink
Changes to “Judge My Teacher” Web site following DPA investigation
The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) recently investigated a Dutch Web site called “Judge My Teacher.” On the Web site, students could grade their teachers and post anonymous comments about them. Often, these comments include negative statements about a teacher’s didactical skills. These reviews often show up prominently in search engine results.
The DPA’s investigation followed two complaints filed by teachers. The teachers had requested the Web site remove their personal data, but the Web site had refused to remove most of the data. Instead, the site responded to both requests with a standard denial letter, stating that the Web site “is a sounding board for students who would otherwise keep their opinions to themselves.” The teachers were emotional about the comments of their students and the Web site’s response to their request. One teacher wrote to the DPA that she almost could not raise the courage to teach anymore.
Following the DPA’s investigation and discussions between the DPA and the Web site owner, the Web site owner made extensive changes:
- access to the personal data of teachers is now limited to students of the teacher’s school;
- a student can only once change in his profile which school he attends;
- the Web site’s reviews of teachers have been deleted from all major search engines;
- the Web site owner has agreed to fully remove a teacher’s personal data from the site if the teacher brings forward personal circumstances that make it unjust to publish his or her personal data.
Richard van Staden ten Brink is advocaat at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.