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Education sector faces a Data time bomb

A survey (opens in new tab) of nearly 1000 schools by IT Firm, RM, has found that teachers at nearly half of England's primary schools take pupils' data back home on a variety of devices, ranging from CDROMs to Memory sticks.

The report also pointed to the very low usage of encryption with only a handful of schools use encryption to protect their data from prying eyes and comes at a time when the UK government is being criticised for not taking data protection and handling seriously enough.

Although the amount of data potentially at risk at any time is several orders of magnitude smaller than the HM Revenue and Customs, the fact that there are thousands of teachers regularly taking home details of the most vulnerable individuals could attract the attention of predatory paedophiles.

RM says that the data carried by teachers who commute include names, addresses, date of birth, contact parents as well as behaviour and academic records.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families told the BBC that the schools have to make sure that personal information is protected.

The comments come a few days after MPs have proposed that reckless (opens in new tab) or repeated breaches of data security be severely punished.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.