The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio had a very interesting story on Sunday about the uneven disclosure of public records by athletic departments at the country’s largest universities.
Here’s an excerpt:
Across the country, many major-college athletic departments keep their NCAA troubles secret behind a thick veil of black ink or Wite-Out.
Alabama.Cincinnati. Florida. Florida State. Ohio State. Oklahoma. Oregon State. Utah. They all censor information in the name of student privacy, invoking a 35-year-old federal law whose author says it has been twisted and misused by the universities.
Former U.S. Sen. James L. Buckley said it’s time for Congress to rein in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which he crafted to keep academic records from public view.
A six-month Dispatch investigation found that FERPA, as it’s commonly called, is a law with many conflicting interpretations. And that makes it virtually impossible to decipher what is going on inside a $5 billion college-sports world that is funded by fans, donors, alumni, television networks and, at most schools, taxpayers.
The paper also includes a searchable database on its Web site so you can look up NCAA violations, university information and their responsiveness to records requests by the Dispatch.
ESPN’s bloggers picked up the story, too. Here’s the take from their Big 12 blogger.
For all the stock we put in computers these days, it’s user error that often gets us in the most trouble.
That’s the conclusion from the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center. It’s wrap-up of 2008 data breaches found that human errors — losing a laptop with sensitive data, sending a CD of data to the wrong address — accounted for most of the data breaches last year.
From its latest report:
Sadly, these trends continue to plague companies and government alike, despite education on safer information handling, new laws and regulations. Mal-attacks, hacking and insider theft, account for 29.6% of those breaches that reported the causal factor. Insider theft, now at 15.7%, has more than doubled between 2007 and 2008. On the other hand, data on the move and accidental exposure, both human error categories, showed noteworthy improvement, but still account for 35.2% of those breaches that indicate cause.
Here in Oklahoma, there are two laws on the books governing data breaches. The first, to do with government agencies, went into effect in 2006. The second, dealing with private businesses, was passed in the last Legislature and went into effect in November.
You can read the ITRC’s entire report here in PDF format. The list shows nine Oklahoma-related data breaches last year, including several businesses and government agencies.
Keep an eye on developments tonight at the meeting of the Oklahoma City School Board.
It’s interesting to note that this is one of the first actions of new Chairman Kirk Humphreys, who has been widely praised for stepping in after the tumultuous, short-lived tenure of John Q. Porter.**
But it raises some alarm bells for advocates of open meetings and open records. It also comes after the city council in Bartlesville decided not to air the public comments section of council meetings on local cable TV. Are we seeing a pattern here?
Tonight’s OKC school board meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at the school district’s administration building at 900 N Klein.
**Clarification at 3 p.m.: Porter was the former superintendent; he has been replaced by Karl Springer. Humphreys replaced former board Chairman Cliff Hudson, who agreed to step down if Porter resigned.