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Administrative fine imposed on the Municipality of Oslo, the Education Agency

In October 2019, a fine of € 120 000 was imposed on the Municipality of Oslo, the Education Agency, as a result of poor security of processing in the ‘Skolemelding’ mobile app. The app is used for communication between school employees, parents and pupils.

The fine was issued because the municipality had not implemented appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk. The following were key elements in the Data Protection Authority’s assessment:

  1. One of the intended uses of the app is for parents to send messages regarding their children and absence from school using a free-text field. This enables communication of special category personal data, such as health data, regarding the children. There are no technical measures to prevent this from happening, and no information is given within the app that such transmission should be avoided. In line with data protection by design and default, alternative measures such as drop-down lists and tick boxes are more appropriate.
  2. Poor app login security made it possible for unauthorised persons to access and alter personal data of more than 63 000 pupils in the first to tenth grade.
  3. As a consequence of inadequate security testing before the app was launched, the app contained well-known security vulnerabilities.

Previously, the Data Protection Authority notified its intent to impose a fine of € 200 000 in response to the findings above. However, in the final amount was reduced to € 120 000 as there were mitigating factors present in the case. The municipality implemented measures to limit the damages as soon as it was made aware of the security flaws, and it has shown willingness to resolve the issues.