ACLU continues investigation, awaits records

Derek Lenehan

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is continuing its investigation into Kent State’s use of Social Security numbers to identify students and faculty.

The investigation began Oct. 17 in response to two separate computer thefts over the summer.

The first incident, a laptop stolen from a vehicle in Cleveland Heights, resulted in 1,400 Social Security numbers being lost. The second incident was the theft of four computers from two deans’ offices in Taylor Hall that contained Social Security numbers for over 100,000 students, faculty members, staff members and alumni.

The ACLU requested several documents, including:

  • A request for all the ways the university uses Social Security numbers as identification.
  • How the numbers are safeguarded.
  • How the university plans to disuse the numbers as identifiers.
  • The cost of the change and a timetable for the change.

The university did not respond with the documents, calling the request too vague, according to Greg Seibert, director of the Office of Security and Compliance. The university has asked the ACLU to clarify its request.

“We are still waiting to hear back from them for clarifications,” Seibert said. “We do not have an estimate for when they will respond – it’s up to them.”

The ACLU also is waiting. They sent a second request to Kent State for the same materials, according to ACLU Litigation Coordinator Gary Daniels.

“We understand that the request is broad,” he said. “The materials we need, though, are broad.”

The investigation could go on for several months, Daniels said.

“We’re preparing for the long-term,” he said.

While legal action against the university is a possibility, it is not being considered yet, according to Daniels.

Contact news correspondent Derek Lenehan at [email protected].