Every Student Can Learn, Just not on the Same Day: An Analysis of Data Protection and Cybersecurity Challenges for E-Learning Platforms in the COVID19 Crisis


  • Sandra Schmitz University of Luxembourg


When the American cartoonist George Evans stated that every student can learn, just not on the same day and in the same way, he probably did not imagine the despair of pupils trying to access an e-learning platform during a national lockdown period.

With the COVID19 crisis, online learning became an everyday commodity almost overnight. However, not all schools were prepared to swiftly switch from in class to distance teaching. Concerns were raised with regard to data protection and cybersecurity, which in some cases led to the implementation of “home-made” solutions.

Taking the example of the federalist state of Germany where education is within the sole competence of the Länder, this paper will explore the functioning and technical implementation of several e-learning platforms and address the data protection challenges. In terms of cybersecurity, this paper also analyses the applicability of the NIS Directive to the various platforms and outlines the consequences for platform providers. In light of the acceleration of the revision of the NIS Directive due to the COVID-19 crisis, we take the example of learning platforms to outline the flaws of the 2016 Directive before we critically evaluate selected aspects of the NIS 2.0 proposal of December 2020.






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