Millions of California Children at Risk from Massive Data Release

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A recent court ruling from a federal judge offers the frightening prospect that 10 million California children’s addresses, Social Security numbers and personal records could be released–and stolen.

Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in Sacramento, ruling in a case where parents of special-needs children wanted to prove the state had not given their children an appropriate education, stated that data on all students in K-12 schools since January 2008 must be released to the parents’ attorney, San Francisco attorney Rony Sagy. No release date has been set.

The court issued a statement showing how parents could object to the disclosure of their or their children’s protected personal information, insisting, “No student’s identifying records will be disclosed to the public.”

The form for parents to fill out is here.

On Monday, Mueller will hold a hearing deciding whether the California Department of Education posted information about the data release and how parents can file a protest.

Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum told the San Jose Mercury News, “If this data is released, it will make its way into the wrong hands. The sophistication of hackers today is profound.” She was echoed by Renato Mascardo, chief technology officer for a San Francisco-based financial software company, who asserted, “That isn’t going to provide a very secure environment,” pointing out that the release of the information eschewed information security defenses such as password length or encrypted traffic. He added that the protocol “lists emails as a viable form of communicating sensitive data, which is unheard of.”


Linda McNulty, who formed Morgan Hill Concerned Parents, which joined with the California Concerned Parents Association to file the suit in April 2012, has told parents that fewer than 10 people will have access to the vast storehouse of data.

Dixon said succinctly, “That’s a ludicrous claim.”

Photo: file