US college students and their parents: your opinion, please

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DC_DEEP, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. DC_DEEP

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    People often belittle me for my rants on privacy and private information. how do you feel about these two Washington Post articles? I won't post the articles here, they are a bit long - but you really should read them.

    The information situation

    Senator Kennedy's response

    I am disgusted, but not surprised. I don't think that jail time should be out of the question for the ones who were supposed to "safeguard" this information, or those who have used it inappropriately.
     
  2. DC_DEEP

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    So, I am the only person who is unhappy with the Federal Department of Education collecting names, social security numbers, dates of birth, banking and loan information, and other personally identifiable information, then making that information available to pretty much anyone who wants it, but especially lenders and collection agencies willing to pay for it?
     
  3. Lex

    Lex
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    DC--I need to read into this more. As you know, Mrs. Lex is incharge of financial aid at a local college/university. Once I speak to her about it, I will have some thoughts.

    On first glance, I do NOT like this shit. (but you know that).
     
  4. Onslow

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    I doubt that you are the only one who has concerns about this. The issue has been building and festering for a while now; the media in general however has been slow to get involved.


    As to the articles and the government portion of it; when reading through the articles--and this is the part that needs to be mentioned as well--I found these comments:


    The improper searching has grown so pervasive that officials said the Education Department is considering a temporary shutdown of the government-run database to review access policies and tighten security. Some worry that businesses are trolling for marketing data they can use to bombard students with mass mailings or other solicitations.
    Education Department spokeswoman Katherine McLane said the agency has spent more than $650,000 since 2003 to safeguard the database. The department has blocked thousands of users that it deemed unqualified for access after security reviews...has blocked 246 users from the student loan industry for inappropriately accessing the data.
    In general, the department allows lenders to search records in the database only if they have a student's permission or a financial relationship with the student.
    The department has been "vigilant in its monitoring for unauthorized uses" of the database, McLane said.
    Concerns about possible abuses of the database are emerging as the student loan industry is under investigation by congressional Democrats and the New York attorney general. Critics say the $85 billion-a-year industry has cozied up to government and university officials who are in a position to help lend...


    and from the Kennedy article:

    The chairman of the Senate education committee urged the Bush administration yesterday to block student loan companies from accessing a national database that holds confidential information on tens of millions of students.
    The request by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), came after The Washington Post reported on inappropriate searches of the database that could violate federal rules and raise concerns about data mining and abuses of privacy.

    The problem has so alarmed officials at the U.S. Department of Education that they are considering a temporary shutdown of the system, which contains 60 million student records.
    "Until the security of the database can be ensured, I urge you to block the use of the database by private lenders," Kennedy wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.
    The database, known as the National Student Loan Data System, contains Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and other sensitive financial information covered by federal privacy laws. Some worry that loan companies are trolling the system for marketing data they can use to bombard students with mass mailings.



    So there is at least limited action being taken. The big picture shows where the internet has taken us--access to information is easily attainable and even if one tries there is no way to stop all disreputables from getting in. Govenment databases, private corporations, schools--all the information can be accessed (even by the average schnook). Should the government have more security in place and work harder at preventing this sort of thing? Sure. Is it truly possible? No. Perhaps an added measure to be put forth would include hefty fines and jail time for those who violate the rules and use information improperly. (Well, it's an idea, not saying it will deter all; but, it may at least help)
     
  5. DC_DEEP

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    Or at least they want the appearance that action is being taken. Margaret Spelling is a total idiot; that's been obvious since she first took the position.

    Re-assessing the access of private lenders to the information? They should not have access at all - not without the prior written consent of the student or that student's parent/s. If the government cannot ensure the security of the information, they do not need to be collecting and databasing it.

    If students and/or their parents are not completely outraged, they are idiots. This is not casual information. Traffiking in this kind of information should carry heavy felony penalties.

    I have written to my representatives before, regarding other privacy breaches. They responded with slime-talk and non-answers. Apparently, not nearly enough people are concerned about what happens with their private, personally-identifiable information.
     
  6. Onslow

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    More ire might exist if people realized this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It's not just college student information which is so readily available; it is information of every individual out there. The ease with which one can garner reams of information on people is frightening and yet people don't seem to blink. There seems to be an air of 'oh, hey--sure it happens; but, it won't ever happen to me or my loved ones.' The question which then needs to be placed is: How do we get people out of their blase (and false) sense of security?
     
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