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Information Technology
Leicester MA

Police to Get Access to Student Data

Joe Conley on Saturday, 24 June 2006.

Police to Get Access to Student Data:

"Virginia's public and private colleges and universities soon will be required to submit the names and Social Security numbers of tens of thousands of students they accept each year to state police for cross-checking against sexual offender registries.

The little-noticed but groundbreaking law is raising concerns among privacy experts about giving police access to a vast new database of student information. They say the data could be stored permanently on hard drives and mishandled, stolen or used for unrelated homeland security or law enforcement purposes.

The Virginia law skirts federal prohibitions on disseminating student information by requiring colleges to turn over data after students have been accepted but before they have picked a school and enrolled.

Critics of the law say the information about student applicants from Virginia and across the nation is at risk. In May, a laptop containing the Social Security numbers of as many as 2.2 million veterans, including 80 percent of the nation's active-duty forces, was stolen from a Maryland home.

"It blows the privacy standards away," said Michael Froomkin, a law professor and privacy specialist at the University of Miami. "People ought to be concerned because you never know where your data is going to end up."

"This is basically providing personal information to the state police for the purpose of conducting a background check on thousands of innocent students with no indication of any wrongdoing on their part," said David Sobel, a D.C. lawyer who specializes in privacy law."

Concerned with where your sensative data as a student is going? Why not Ask President Simone?