WLU privacy slip up a wake up call

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When Bob Baumgartner, a former Wilfrid Laurier University student, found his private contact information available through a public document off of Google, he was astonished that it was traced back to his days at Laurier.

However, he could not remember why or when the list that featured his personal information was even composed. Surely any participation in a study, on-campus group or residence list should remain private knowledge.

Baumgartner is not alone. Nearly 300 other students had their privacy breached with a tremendous amount of personal information that was not confined to their e-mail address, home address and phone numbers, but included their parents’ contact information as well.

This puts others at risk of falling victim to identity theft and fraud.

While Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Privacy Office at Laurier appear to be taking action on the breach, it leaves an uneasy feeling about the amount of personal information students have trustingly given to Laurier.

In an academic setting, which houses courses that centre entirely around the issue of privacy, it is almost ironic that a school which prides itself on progress and innovation should commit such a serious error.

In our digital age, where almost any information you seek can be found through a search engine, personal information is no longer, well, personal.

While most people are becoming more aware of the unfortunate need to be sparse when sharing their contact information, a post-secondary institution should provide reassurance that our information is safe.
— The Cord Editorial Board


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