Data Privacy Week

January 24-28 is Data Privacy Week. This weeklong event is an international effort to raise awareness of the importance of data privacy for individuals and encourage businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust.

By Shari Baraniuk, CIO, Information and Communication Technologies

Talking Tech with Shari

In this edition of Talking Tech with Shari we cover quick tips to help you secure your private data, plus an interview with USask’s Access and Privacy Officer, Rayelle Johnston to discuss data privacy at USask.

We live in an increasingly digital world where data is generated and stored about you and others in almost every aspect of your personal and work life. Here are some resources for you on how to keep your data private, and to learn more about how Usask is protecting you!

Where can I learn more about data privacy in general?

How can I protect my USask data?

I chatted with Rayelle Johnston, the university’s Access and Privacy Officer, to get her expertise about data privacy at USask:

Why is privacy and information security important at USask?      

First and foremost, we have an ethical duty to keep your personal information, such as student or research data, safe from digital threats. Personal information is meaningful and intimate. It belongs to the person, and we are stewards of that information. We believe in handling it with care and respect. And of course, privacy is the law. At USask, we are beholden to the Local Authority Freedom of Information and the Protection of Privacy Act that requires us to protect the personal information stored in our systems.

What role can staff and faculty play?

The more you know, the safer you are. That is why we require all staff and faculty to participate in IT Security Training and enroll in MFA which provides an extra layer of security. Soon there will also be a data governance course offering. Ask questions, report any issues as soon as you notice something is amiss and continue to check the resources mentioned above for tips on protecting your data. I am happy to work with departments and colleges to develop privacy training that meets their needs.

What role can students play?

The majority of our students grew up in the internet era, and for that reason, they are extremely savvy when it comes to privacy. They often make intentional decisions about what to post online and are generally careful to respect other people’s privacy online. We hope that students carry this attitude forward through what they do on campus and promote a culture of privacy and respect. Students can also play a role by asking questions, reporting concerns to the privacy office under safe disclosure, and challenging compliance when they notice opportunities for improvement.

What role does ICT play in privacy ?

All levels of ICT have a role to play. Front line support staff act as gatekeepers, help to flag concerns, and think about security and privacy when dealing with support requests. Leaders can influence, promote a culture of excellence and compliance, and empower the USask community to take action and ownership of their data.

Why do we limit what kind of applications and digital services people can use on campus?

Third-party apps and tools for teaching, storage or administrative purposes often store personal information and other data. We don’t have full control over how the security or privacy is managed by these third parties. Every individual on campus is counting on us to help keep their personal information safe. Doing our due diligence and approving applications and digital services that meet our high standards is one way we protect our community’s personal information.

What resources are available to people on campus?

Many faculty or staff units arrange for their own technology and services. In doing so, it’s always worthwhile to work with your college coordinator or an ICT support agent and think about who’s handling your data. There are quite a few resources available to you, from the aforementioned training to regularly posted articles on our Information Security site. Supervisors can be a source of information and help you find the office or individual who will help you when you need it. You can also reach out to the Privacy office, or information security. It’s important to not be afraid to ask questions or raise issues. The sooner we are aware of issues, the sooner we can address them.

Data privacy is something that impacts all of us and requires everyone to do their part in ensuring our data is protected appropriately. Please reach out to an ICT support agent or Access and Privacy if you have any data privacy questions or concerns.

Shari Baraniuk, ICT, Associate Vice-President and CIO
Technology Plan 2025