BC Education Data Breach A Potential Threat To Students & Teachers’ Privacy

B.C. government officials are still have not been able to locate a hard drive containing 3.4 million records of students’ data which was reported lost last Thursday. The Minister of Technology, Mr. Amrik Virk of innovation and citizen’s services briefed the local media in a press conference on Tuesday. He stated that the B.C. government is unable to find the hard drive containing personal information of nearly 3.4 million students. Moreover the hard drive thus misplaced is unencrypted.

Elizabeth Denham, Commissioner of B.C. information and privacy stated that this might cause some serious “privacy issues” as the drive roughly contains students data from year 1986 to 2009, information related to personal details such as names, schools, health and behavioural issues of over 3.5 million students. The officials however thinks that the risk associated to the data theft is quote low as the information on the hard drive does not contain any personal details such as financial, banking or social insurance details of any candidate.

Amrik virk
Amrik Virk, minister of technology, innovations and citizen’s services debriefing media on the data breach  (Image: CBC)

According to a spokesperson of B.C. education ministry, the hard drive which got misplaced, is among one of the two drive created by B.C. government in year 2011 with the aim to back up the students records.

The unencrypted drive also contains information about Yukon Students. The officials stated that the government is looking for every possible threat, which might risks the identity of any individual. The drive contains informations such as name, gender, grades, behavioural issues as well as personal education numbers. As per Mr. Virk, there were around 9,273 personal education number of the students who were under care of Ministry of Children and Family Development recorded in the hard drive.

One of the teachers from B.C. Teachers Federation states that the drive contains enough information which can easily violate the privacy of thousands of students and teachers.

Although Mr. Amit Virk came to know about the misplaced hard drive on Friday noon, yet the officials are trying to locate the drive since early August. According to the electronic records, the hard drive has to be in a cage locked in a warehouse, but the staff was unable to find any such hard drive in the warehouse.

Mr. Virk has directed the officials to ensure the prevention of privacy breach in any way possible. B.C. government has already set up a team to investigate about the missing drive. The officials has issued a helpline number in which the people who get affected can call to the government and inform such thing.

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