Student privacy protected: Privacy commissioner weighs in on GSA debate
The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta released an advisory on releasing a student’s participation in a school club, including a gay-straight alliance.
Jill Clayton says the advisory was issued as the United Conservative Government looks at making changes to the education laws in Alberta.
“For some time, I have been following with interest the public debate about disclosing a student’s participation in a GSA to parents,” Clayton said in a press release. “There have been many perspectives in this debate and various interpretations – or misinterpretations – about how Alberta’s privacy laws apply to a student’s participation in a GSA.
On June 5, the Minister of Education commented in the Legislative Assembly, ‘What is in the privacy legislation that will govern this is FOIP and PIPA, and that actually supersedes, so there will be privacy legislation that will ensure that the private information of a student is safeguarded.’”
According to the advisory released by Clayton’s office, private and public schools can only disclose personal information, such as voluntary club memberships, if it’s in accordance with Alberta’s privacy laws.
“Students must understand that privacy laws exist and that they have rights under those laws,” Clayton said. “They must also know that there are mechanisms in place through my office to review situations when they believe their privacy rights have been infringed. This is certainly important in the context of GSAs, but equally essential when students navigate their parallel online worlds.”