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On September 22, I was given a short briefing by the Deputy Minister of Education on the missing unencrypted hard drive that contains more than three million student records.

This is a serious breach of security with enormous potential to violate the privacy of hundreds of thousands of British Columbians-teachers, parents, students, and children-in-care as well as other vulnerable youth.  

As a parent myself of children who went to school between 1986 and 2009, I fully understand the concern and worry people have.  

First, I want to say that the government must continue to work overtime to find this missing hard drive as soon as possible and secure its information.

Second, I want to raise broader concerns about student data collection, its storage and the centralization of that data.

For years now, we have been worried about the growth of data collection in BC schools.

From the glitchy, $100 million dollar BCeSIS program to the brand new and equally frustrating $100 million dollar MyEducationBC program, the government insists on collecting more and more data and maintaining centralized data bases.

But we have seen today how easily mistakes happen.

Mental health information, special education designations, exam marks, Foundation Skills Assessment results and very sensitive data on children-in-care is now at risk.

And with MyEducationBC, the government wants to expand the data collected and the number of people with access to it.

We have huge concerns about that. Why is the data collected? How is it secured? When is it destroyed? At what point do students get the right to be forgotten?

Why is a 35-year-old today worried about her or his privacy being violated from student records collected 25 years ago?

The BCTF has been strongly raising these concerns for several years. I hope now the government will take our concerns and student privacy seriously. 

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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