Saudi Arabia: Data about female teachers shared on WhatsApp sparks outrage

Abu Dhabi: The publication of personal data of female teachers in Shaqraa, a town in central Saudi Arabia, located about 190 kilometers north-west of the capital Riyadh, on social media has sparked widespread outrage among teachers and their parents, prompting them to demand bringing those responsible for the incident to account, local media reported.

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A file including teachers’ names, civil records and their cell phone numbers, in addition to their evaluation based on the number of times they logged into the Madrasati platform, was inadvertently sent to a WhatsApp group, and later widely circulated on social media.

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The Shaqraa Department of Education has confirmed sending of teachers’ data in a file via the WhatsApp group, but it justified that saying that was in a group that includes school leaders and l supervisors, and that the purpose of sending the file was to motivate teachers and leaders, in addition to the need to use the WhatsApp in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A number of teachers and their parents demanded that those responsible for publishing their private data via social media be held accountable.

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A teacher said, “It is not permissible to publish the teachers ’phones and civil records, whatever the excuse and whatever the justification, because personal data may not be published, whether in work groups or others, especially since cybersecurity professionals warn against circulating personal information and civil records, lest offenders would exploit it in their electronic crimes.”

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Work groups

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Shaqraa Education Department’s spokesman Faisal Al Murjan, told Sabq the file was sent – and not published – to one WhatsApp group only, which is an official working group that includes school leaders only, and it is known that these work groups are used under the current circumstances.

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He added, “The administration did not publish the file in any of the social media, whether public or private, but rather sent the file an official working group.”

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He concluded with reference to the method of reporting the file to a working group, the purpose of it, and the positive results achieved, it became clear that there was no defamation whatsoever of the teachers, and this was not intended at all by the administration, or school leaders.

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