Data privacy committee to review all University data projects, policy: officials

Media Credit: File Photo by Michelle Lin | Photographer

The new announcement of the committee comes after officials used the Wi-Fi system to track community members without their consent throughout fall 2021.

Officials are forming a Data Privacy Consultative Committee that will review all University data projects after officials announced they tracked community members’ whereabouts on campus without their consent in fall 2021.

Provost Chris Bracey said in an email to community members Monday that the DPCC will complete quarterly evaluations of all University data projects, make recommendations around projects’ compliance with GW policies and review any data projects administrators flag as breaching GW’s business practices and policies. The announcement follows officials’ implementation of three data privacy principles, including making decisions around data and privacy principles transparently, adhering to federal and local data privacy laws and clearly communicating new rules on how to use community members’ personal information after officials used the Wi-Fi system to track community members without consent.

Bracey said the DPCC will also make recommendations to officials as to whether data projects or policy should “be paused or proceed.”

“I am grateful to the data privacy task force for its hard work last year in developing data privacy principles and recommendations for the University’s consideration, and I look forward to the Data Privacy Consultative Committee’s forthcoming efforts in advancing these core principles as we realize the benefits of data analytics at the George Washington University,” Bracey said in an email.

The DPCC features five staff, four faculty and one student, including Ronald Layne, Stephanie Baldwin, Harald Griesshammer, Cristina Grigore, Joe Knop, Collins Munyendo, Daniel Solove, Marinella Temprosa, Philip Wirtz and Eric Yang.

The formation of DPCC aligns with additional measures considered by the University last fall like establishing new data governance policies, constructing a new review process for University data analytics projects and refining the University’s privacy notice to include data analytics projects.

Last spring, a Faculty Senate subcommittee said the 2021 tracking project was an “extremely intrusive” initiative that provided “little” value while lauding Bracey and Interim University Mark Wrighton, who apologized after becoming aware of the pilot project.

Officials collected the data throughout the fall 2021 semester despite the University’s privacy policy stating that any party processing data from community members on behalf of GW must issue a privacy notice to users explaining how the information will be used.

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