KENT— Today, the ACLU of Ohio sent a letter and public records request to Kent State University in response to recent questions about the security of student, faculty, staff and alumni personal information.
Concerns were initially raised after two separate thefts occurred in which computers carrying the Social Security numbers of over 100,000 people were taken.
The Social Security numbers were housed on the computers because of Kent State University’s policy of using the numbers to identify and track students and faculty for various purposes including payroll and grade assignments. Following each robbery, the University administration promised community members that it would change its methods in order to protect and minimize the use of Social Security numbers, yet no significant reforms appear to have been made.
ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeff Gamso said, “With identity theft becoming a widespread problem and personal information so easy to obtain through advanced technology, the University must make greater efforts to ensure that students and faculty retain their privacy.”
Gamso went on, "The purpose of our investigation is to determine how serious Kent State University's commitment is to safeguarding student and faculty privacy and what steps, if any, the University has taken in this regard".
The first theft took place in June 2005 where a laptop used by a human resources employee at KSU was taken out of the car. The laptop contained over 1,400 Social Security numbers. The second incident was in August 2005 when four computers and six monitors were stolen from the dean’s office. It has been reported that the personal information of at least 100,000 students, alumni, faculty and staff was contained on the computers