The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Monday, January 03, 2005

National student database raises privacy concerns in the US 

Privacy and student activists in the United States are concerned about the implications of a proposed database that will track all post-secondary students in the United States. The Harvard Crimson has a good overview of the proposed system and the concerns being expressed.

The Harvard Crimson Online :: Feds May Launch Student Database: Records will track academics, tuition payments and financial aid benefits:

"Federal officials are considering a proposal to launch a massive database that would track college students' academic progress, tuition payments and financial aid benefits in an effort to gather improved data on higher education.

Proponents of the move say the expanded database could help officials craft more sensible public policies. Opponents fear that the plan could facilitate large-scale infringements on students' privacy.

The proposal--currently being vetted by Department of Education officials--would expand an existing database to allow researchers to track individual students who drop out of college or transfer between institutions. It would include information ranging from social security numbers to participation in varsity sports."

Before Canadian readers think "how long until this comes to Canada?", they may be surprised to learn that this is already here:

InfoSource: Statistics Canada 7 / 11:

"Postsecondary Student Database

Description: The information in this bank is obtained from the administrative files of Canadian universities and other postsecondary institutions (community colleges, CEGEPs). It includes demographic data, and information relating to the individual's activities as a student, such as qualification sought, discipline of specialization, and previous educational activity. There are no names in this data bank. Consequently, for retrieval purposes, it is necessary to use the number assigned to the individual by the institution and the year(s) the individual has studied at that institution. Class of Individuals: This bank contains annual information on full-time and part-time students in Canadian postsecondary institutions. Purpose: The purpose of this bank is to produce statistical information on student by province, institution, program and sex. Retention and Disposal Standards: The files are to be retained for 55 years. RDA Number: To be established. Related to PR#: STC ECT 170 TBS Registration: 001855 Bank Number: STC PPU 090"

One big difference is that the Canadian database is not available for routine law enforcement and national security browsing thanks to the secrecy provisions of the Statistics Act.

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