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June 5, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Law Students’ Privacy Breached

On 25 May, the Faculty of Law breached the privacy of over a thousand Victoria University Students.
In an email invitation to a number of law events, 200 and 300 level students were sent a spreadsheet which included the full names, student ID numbers, and personal emails of 1,200 students.
Two minutes after the first email a recall email was sent, and an hour later, an urgent recall email was sent, reading: “Some of you may have received an email containing a confidential Excel spreadsheet of students details. This was sent in error. In line with legal integrity, if you received the message, could you please refrain from viewing the Excel spreadsheet and immediately delete the email and spreadsheet. It would be greatly appreciated if you could please confirm when you have done this.”
After several hours, an apology on behalf of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dean, and Deputy-Dean of Law was sent out to students, and contact details were provided for anyone with particular concerns.
“Our sincere apologies for this mistake and the inadvertent sharing of this information. We take our privacy obligations seriously are are dismayed that this has occurred. We will review what happened and update our processes to ensure this does not happen again.”
One Victoria University student who did not wish to be identified said the breach was particularly significant because student ID numbers are vital to how students access their grades, and that the breach “potentially leaves people’s grades visible to most of those 1200 people on the spreadsheet”.

“An apology feels unsatisfactory to me,” the student said.
On 1 July, Law Faculty Management sent an email to students reassuring them that access to grades on Blackboard are password protected, and the “information contained in the spreadsheet does not enable any student to see or access any other student’s assessment results”.
The day before the breach, the VUW Privacy Officer had emailed the student body to reiterate the importance of student’s privacy to the University in light of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has recently come into effect.
A University spokesperson said that they are currently investigating how the breach occurred.

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