18 Jun 2013
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School privacy has room for improvement

By Rebecca Wood

New Zealand schools are being warned to pull their socks up over their lack of website privacy policies.

A recent scan of school websites carried out by the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, showed there is often no information given to users about how their personal information collected via the site will be used and shared.

“We found that in a selection of the larger New Zealand schools’ websites we looked at, very few had any sort of policy at all,” says Marie Shroff, New Zealand Privacy Commissioner.

School websites that did have a privacy policy, including those from Auckland Grammar, Rosehill College, Hamilton Girls High, Wanganui High School and Papanui High School, were looked at in closer detail to determine if the policy was easy to understand.

“We looked at whether a new user coming to the site could read the policy and have some fair idea about whether personal information was being collected about them, what it would be used for, and whether it would be shared with third parties,” says Shroff.

“There were some very simple things that we checked for, like whether there were contact details given for the privacy officer. There was a lot of room for improvement!”

The scan was part of an international “internet sweep” day, involving data protection offices in the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN). The amalgamated international results from the GPEN internet sweep will be available in coming months. Further international and domestic action to encourage improved information for website users will be considered once final results of the sweep are known.

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