Tribune wins privacy ruling against U. of I.

From the Chicago Tribune (3/9/11): A federal judge has concluded that a federal privacy act does not bar the University of Illinois from releasing information about hundreds of college applicants who appeared on an internal list of well-connected students, the basis for the Chicago Tribune's 2009 "Clout Goes to College" investigation.

U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall said the U. of I. is mistaken in citing the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 to deny the Tribune’s request for certain information for the series of articles examining a formalized admissions system that allowed subpar but politically connected applicants to get into the university over more qualified candidates.

Gottschall concluded that the act “does not specifically prohibit Illinois from doing anything, so the university may not use the federal law as authority to withhold the records” sought in December 2009.

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