ACLU Asks Univ. of Nevada to Stop Selling Student Information to Credit Card Company

Affiliate: ACLU of Nevada
January 22, 2002 12:00 am

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NEW YORK–The American Civil Liberties Union today demanded that the University and Community College System of Nevada (UCCSN) stop selling the names and addresses of former students to a credit card company in violation of the federal privacy rules.

“”When Congress passed their privacy rules, it recognized that colleges and universities have an important responsibility in maintaining the privacy of information about their students and former students,”” said Gary Peck, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada. “”The university system in Nevada needs to live up to that responsibility.””

Certain campuses of the University of Nevada provide the names and addresses of former students to MBNA, a Delaware company that describes itself as “”the world’s largest independent credit card issuer.”” In exchange, the universities receive a cut of the profits on credit card purchases. For example, the Reno campus received $58,000 last year.

The Community College of Southern Nevada (CCSN) may also be in violation of the federal law, which is known as the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act or FERPA. The practice came to light when CCSN student Denise Wilcox raised questions about it.

In a letter sent today to Jane Nichols, the UCCSN chancellor, the ACLU of Nevada and the national ACLU asked for an immediate end to the practice of selling information. The letter also asked the University system to adopt a uniform, system-wide policy clarifying that personally identifiable information of current and former students, donors, faculty and staff will not be sold without consent.

“”The antiterrorism legislation recently enacted by Congress weakened privacy protections for foreign students, a move the ACLU opposed,”” said Ann Beeson, an ACLU National Staff Attorney. “”But schools shouldn’t be under any illusions: federal protections for the privacy of student information are still fully in effect.””

“”We hope that this incident will prompt students at other colleges and universities around the nation to start asking questions about how their administrations are handling their personally identifiable information,” Beeson added.

The text of the ACLU’s letter to the Chancellor is online at /node/9731 .

The University of Nevada’s “”Regulations for Student Records”” policy referenced in the ACLU letter is included in the school’s course catalog, available in .pdf format at

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