[German]Schools and students in German state Hesse will no longer be able to work with Microsoft Teams as a video conference communication solution in the next school year winter 2021/2022. The Hessian Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI) had already given a clear indication on March 31 of this year that the toleration of non-privacy-compliant video conferencing systems (VKS) in the Hessian school landscape would expire. From July 31, 2021, this toleration will end and schools will have to switch to data protection-compliant video conferencing systems. Microsoft Teams is also explicitly affected by this end of toleration, as the Hessian Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI) recently announced.
I had heard it on the radio these days and then specifically researched it on the Internet. The Hessian Data Protection Commissioner addresses the issue in this June 14, 2021 statement.
After the outbreak of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, the Hessian Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI) issued a toleration order for (almost) all VKS. This toleration was extended in July 2020 for another school year until July 31, 2021. By this time, the Hessian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs has promised to provide all schools with a uniform, data-protection-compliant and technically efficient VKS (state VKS). This removes the factual basis for schools in Hesse to use other VKS.
SCHREM II ruling and the consequences
The current legal situation is currently shaped in particular by the so-called "Schrems II ruling" of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), writes the data protection commissioner. According to this ruling, the transfer of personal data of European citizens to states that do not guarantee the data protection standard of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is prohibited. By using the state VKS, Hessian schools would meet the standards required by the ECJ (subject to review by the HBDI).
Only video conferencing in Teams affected
In addition, the HBDI again draws attention to the fact that only the video conferencing function of MS Teams is affected by the expiry of the toleration. Other functions of MS Teams (e.g. chat function, exchange of documents) and also Microsoft 365 can initially continue to be used in the educational area by schools.
As the privacy commissioner's memo says, "Of course, the HBDI is aware that due to school-specific processes, there may be different timelines for migration in the state's individual schools. However, the HBDI is prepared to bear the delays resulting from this, insofar as it is recognizable that the schools have embarked on the path towards a data protection-compliant VKS. However, the HBDI assumes that the schools will have completed the transition by the end of the first school semester of 2021/22 at the latest.
The bulkheads are therefore closing for the Microsoft solutions in which Teams is integrated in various federal states. From this perspective, it will be interesting to see how this Windows 11, which Microsoft has just released for Windows Insiders. Teams is supposed to be delivered there as a "standard video conferencing solution".
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