Data security breaches have plagued colleges and universities for years, and now a former student at the University of Hawaii (UH) has sued the school for negligence in a case that could change how colleges and universities handle data going forward, some experts say.
Philippe Gross, a former student, filed a class-action lawsuit against UH on Nov. 18, after news leaked that sensitive information—including the Social Security numbers of more than 40,000 former UH students—was posted online for almost a year before being removed in October. The lawsuit is believed to be the first of its kind.
“UH did not step up and offer credit monitoring, identity theft insurance, all the things they could’ve done to assist students and faculty,” Thomas Grande, Gross’s lawyer, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser when the lawsuit was filed.
University officials told the Associated Press that a faculty member inadvertently uploaded files containing the information to an unprotected server on Nov. 30, 2009, exposing the names, academic performance, disabilities, and other sensitive information of 40,101 students who attended the flagship Manoa campus from 1990 to 1998 and in 2001. A handful of students from the West Oahu campus were included in the security breach as well.