School Records Discovered Sitting On Google

    May 18, 2007

It’s happened before, and now it’s happened again – the records of some schoolchildren became available to anyone and everyone using Google.  The security lapse has now been resolved (sort of), but it’s possible that the records were sitting unprotected for as long as two years.

Andy Gamill of The Indianapolis Star writes that he “found information on at least 7,500 students and some staff members, including phone numbers, birth dates, medical information and Social Security numbers.”  And, in case you didn’t know, “Such student information is required to be kept private under federal law.”

In the past, such gaffes have gotten Google sued – take the case that involved a North Carolina school and an unfortunately named judge, for example.  Yet the Indiananapolis public school system seems less quick to blame the search engine giant; when Superintendent Eugene White spoke to Gamill, he appeared to take responsibility for the problem.

“We will protect this information in the future,” White said.  “This matter has received the highest priority of the district, and the IT department has made the necessary changes.”

That’s a nice, mature attitude, but there’s still a chance that this could go to court, as Gamill noted that “duplicate versions” of the compromised records remained available on Google (after the schools had patched up their systems).  Google’s not to blame for the original leak, but it should probably – for the positive PR, if nothing else – help clean it up in a timely manner.