The Surrey school district has apologized after private student information, including social insurance numbers, was publicly posted on the Surrey Schools website.
In a letter from the district to students obtained by the Now-Leader, the district said it received a report June 16 that “some” student scholarship applications were “inadvertently” posted on the school district’s website from April 19 to May 6.
Information that was posted included students contact information, social insurance number, educational and volunteer history, and career planning information.
The district told the Now-Leader that 67 students were affected.
“We have since followed up with the internet search provider to ensure that no further instances of the materials are available online to unauthorized users,” the letter to students read.
“Since this incident was discovered, the School District has been making efforts to trace each and every access to the student applications that did take place.”
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While the letter to students notes that the “vast majority” of the people who accessed the data were members of the scholarship committee, the district cannot confirm that authorized personnel were the only people to view the data.
“In some instances we did not have enough sufficient information from our systems to make a definitive finding about the identity of the user,” the letter said.
While the district said it has no information to suggest any of the information has been used inappropriately, it told students to “remain alert.”
“Please accept our sincere apologies for any upset or inconvenience this matter may have caused for you,” the letter to students said.
A Queen Elizabeth Secondary graduate, who was one of the students that had their private information posted publicly, informed the Now-Leader of the incident.
“I was shocked at the incompetence, irresponsibility,” the student said. “To me, I don’t know how it could have happened for almost two weeks. If it was a one or two day thing, it still would have been bad but it’s more forgivable. This is like two weeks, 16 days I think it was. How could it happen for that long?”
The student, who asked for his name to not be published, said he applied for five scholarships through the district’s system.
He said he filed an official complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC (OIPC) and spoke directly to the district about the incident.
He said the district told him that one anonymous person accessed his personal documents.
“There’s a strong likelihood that it’s someone from the district looking at it to see if I deserve the scholarship or not, but there’s also a chance it could be a random passerby who might be interested in my documents,” the student said.
In the letter to students, the district said it had reported the matter to the OIPC. The Now-Leader has reached out to the OIPC for comment.
“Your privacy is important to us, and we are taking steps to protect against this type of incident occurring again,” the district’s letter read.
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