ASCMC Privacy and Financial Disclosure Quandary
Note: This post is only worth reading if you're interested in internet privacy issues, ethics, ASCMC, or you're a philosophy major.
The Issue: Today I got an e-mail from a Pomona student who wanted me to remove the 5C campus organizations budget requests that I uploaded and posted on ascmc.org. The problem, in his opinion, is that the budget requests contain not only clubs' goals and spending line items, but member lists as well. So when you Googles this Pomona kid's name, the results disclose his membership in a religious group, in a pre-professional club, and in an ethnic club at the Claremont Colleges. This is potentially problematic for him for obvious reasons (e.g. what if an employer knew all your political and religious views?).
The Questions: Do we remove the budget requests and make ASCMC less transparent? The idea of posting the requests in the first place was to add transparency and show people why money was allocated to various clubs and dispel accusations of conflicts of interest, favoritism, etc. Also, do student groups that receive funding from ASCMC (or ASPC, ASHMC, etc.) have a right to keep their member lists private? Is this doing a disservice to students who want their club associations to be Google-able-- members of an honor society, service group, or humanitarian club for example.
The Solution: The club budgets are now accessible from on-campus computer IP addresses only.
Is that still too much of a breach of privacy? Is it illegal to post club member lists on the internet if a club receives funding from ASCMC? Hypothetically, if this student could prove damages, could he win a suit for the harm done to his career, etc.?
This is an excerpt from the original e-mail:
"I found it because I am listed as a member in one of the budget request documents for a 5C club that has nothing to do with CMC, but is still on your website. I realize that this is not something you were responsible for. However, I am wondering how internal college documents like this have been made available to the world on the ASCMC website without the consent or knowledge of the clubs. The sheets contain potentially sensitive information, including extensive name lists and club budgets, among other things. Although the intent was doubtless harmless, I do not think I am alone in seeing this as a large breach of privacy, especially as our consent was never sought.
I was wondering if you could remove the documents outright, or at least restrict them to the campus network. If you cannot do this directly, I would appreciate it if you could forward this request to someone who can, and cc me so I can see that it gets done. Thank you in advance, and please let me know if I can do anything else to correct the problem and make sure that this doesn't happen again."