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ICO acts on student privacy breach

Slapped wrist for Manchester Uni

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Manchester University has been censured by the Information Commissioner's Office for publishing personal information about students.

The ICO said it had taken enforcement action against the university for a breach of the Data Protection Act after a member of staff emailed an attachment to 469 students which contained the personal records of 1,700 people.

The records, which included information on some students' disabilities, were published when a member of the university staff had unauthorised access to the information.

The university has now signed a formal undertaking outlining that it will process personal information in line with the Data Protection Act. It said that it will ensure all its staff have adequate training to prevent the inappropriate transfer of data and that it will take measures to safeguard personal data from accidental loss or destruction.

Mick Gorrill, assistant information commissioner at the ICO, said: "The Data Protection Act clearly states that organisations, including universities, must take appropriate measures to ensure that personal information is kept secure.

"This case reinforces the importance that only those authorised should have access to sensitive personal information such as a student's disabilities and other health details. Despite the absence of a justifiable reason, the staff member was able to access the information and send it to students and peers which could cause significant distress to individuals concerned.

"Under the Data Protection Act, organisations must ensure that their policies on the transfer, sharing and publication of personal information are adequate and that staff members are aware and understand those policies. Manchester University recognises the seriousness of this case and has agreed to take immediate remedial action."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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