Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Trading your privacy to make you "safe"

I've said for a long time that rights taken arbitrarily away ex post facto away from sex offenders are rights lost to all, but I confess I never expected to see compulsive legislators taking away everyone's privacy rights in order to provide them a little "safety." Checking student data for sex offenders stirs debate:

RICHMOND, Va. -- A new law that requires Virginia colleges to give personal information on admitted students to police for cross-checking with sex offender lists is raising eyebrows among privacy watchdogs and education leaders.

Under the law that takes effect July 1, the state's public and private colleges will send state police the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of all students who are accepted at their schools. Privacy law experts believe it's the first time a state has ever imposed such a requirement.

Proponents say the law will help protect students from sex offenders, and state police are confident the personal information will be secure. But others are raising concerns about privacy rights and risks that the data could be misused or stolen.

"I am not aware of anything on this breathtaking a scope when it comes to violating the potential prospective students' privacy," said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers.

"Certainly the damage to privacy interests of innocent people is obvious."

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the personal information of enrolled students, but does not apply to those who have merely been accepted.

"This law may not technically violate federal law, but it certainly violates the spirit of federal law intended to maintain student privacy rights," said Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Virginia.

The law does not bar sex offenders from entering college but provides a way to keep track of them. ...

One of the compulsive legislators who voted for this is suffering a bit of a hangover, it would seem:

But one lawmaker who voted for the bill said he's having second thoughts.

"The bill went through with little or no debate," said Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax County. "There may have been another solution." ...

Gee, do you think??? He sure didn't; he just ran with the pack.

I don't think I'll point out how this scheme could be circumvented. I don't think it would be difficult.


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