Jan 122012
 January 12, 2012  Posted by  Non-U.S., Youth & Schools

There’s a situation in Norway that seems somewhat parallel to a situation in the U.S. whereby some student information is considered “directory information” and schools may disclose it without student consent.   Staffing Industry Analysts reports:

Norwegian papers have extensively covered a scandal that involves the private employment agency Rekruttering AS, one of Scandinavia’s top staffing firms. It has recently come to light that the agency has for years been provided with the names and addresses of over 100,000 graduates, without their consent or knowledge.

Particularly student newspapers have voiced their anger at this, calling this incident “a serious infringement on students’ privacy.” One leader of a Norwegian student union said, “We believe this is a very serious infringement on the privacy of Norwegian students, and we will encourage all higher education institutions in Norway not to disclose lists of student details to Rekruttering AS .”

Rekruttering AS justifies its action on legal grounds, claiming public law allows access to student registers and the Ministry of Education has so far backed the agency on this matter. The public law clause gives everybody the right to access personal records, without giving account of the purpose of this so-called freedom of information request.

The staffing agency has so far received the personal details of graduates from some of Norway’s leading universities, including the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen, according to the newspaper Aftenposten.

I’m not sure what their “public law clause” is that would allow an agency to get a list of a university’s graduates with names and addresses. Is this because these are publicly funded universities or is there some other rationale or basis? And if they are subject to some freedom of information requests, don’t EU privacy protections have something to say about this?

While some might argue that getting unsolicited mail about job opportunities is annoying but not particularly privacy-invasive, I’m just curious about Norwegian law on this.  Can any reader clarify?

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