Support Our Students Files Complaint with Privacy Commissioner Over Alberta Education Storing Private Information Outside of Canada
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Calgary – Today, Support Our Students Alberta, a public education advocacy organization, filed a complaint with the Alberta Privacy Commissioner over Alberta Education’s use of a third-party information technology service provider, namely SurveyMonkey, to process and store private information of Albertans outside of Canada, in contravention of the Personal Information Protection Act.
It appears that SurveyMonkey has recently become the de-facto standard for public engagement by this government, raising serious privacy concerns. This platform is collecting private information of Albertans, including free-text responses and possibly identifying information, that normally would not be releasable under a public freedom-of-information request, and processing and storing this information outside of Canada.
We assert that the Government of Alberta failed in its responsibilities to properly notify Albertans that their private information will be stored outside of Canada and are concerned this sets a dangerous precedent. We question what processes were followed to ensure compliance with privacy standards, and what controls are in place to ensure access to personal data in third-party systems cannot be exploited for partisan purposes at a later date.
As Alberta’s advocates for equitable and accessible public education, Support Our Students Alberta has an interest in ensuring that the many Albertans we represent are appropriately protected when engaging with our government.