Personal details of 700 Lincoln students available online

– Michael Passingham contributed to this report

The names, addresses and Facebook profile details of almost 700 current University of Lincoln students are publicly available online, The Linc has discovered.


The website claimed it would help new University of Lincoln students "find flatmates" for accommodation including Junxion, Pavilions and Student Village (pictured). Photo: Tom Larken

The website, which will remain nameless, contains a database of 685 students from all of the major student accommodation providers in the city including Brayford Courts, The Pavilions, Brayford Quays and The Junxion.

The data was used by a service utilised by students in the summer of 2012 who were looking to find out who their flatmates were and includes names, court numbers, room numbers, block names and Facebook profile IDs.

While the data was seemingly meant only to be used during the weeks leading up to moving to the new academic year beginning in September 2012, the information is still available from the website and is searchable on search engines such as Google.

The website, which is not affiliated with the university, advertises itself as a “totally free service for freshers of the University of Lincoln to help find their future flatmates before the big day.”

A female second-year student studying International Business at the university was surprised to find her details still publicly available. She explained: “I thought that my details would only be available to people using the website for the same purpose as myself – to find out who my flatmates were.

“It’s quite worrying that my address is public, considering there are some sick-minded people out there. However, we attend a safe university so I still feel safe. I’m just disappointed with the website.”

An international MA student also expressed her concern at the ease with which her data could be accessed: “Even if no-one is aware of this link, and no one is planning to misuse it – I hope not – I want to have the choice to make my address public or not.

“The point is, I put it up thinking it was not public information. Plus it linked to my Facebook profile? Fantastic!”

Michael Ball, Residential Services Manager at the University of Lincoln, advised students to instead use services provided by websites associated with the university: “Students can ask us to hold listings to try and match people within the university’s own accommodation and also via a bulletin board on associate website Studentpad.”

Judith Carey, Director of Student Affairs, said: “The university has no affiliation with this website and does not endorse it. Students should always be vigilant when asked to provide personal details to third parties, including online, and should always think how that information might be used.”

The website’s current wording does make it clear that a list would be published publicly, but it is unclear if this was always the case.

It also suggests that it would “find” flatmates on behalf of the user. The home page reads: “We can only find those flatmates that have submitted the form. So share this site with everyone you know!”

The website was unavailable for comment. The list is still online, and there is no sign of it being removed.

*Update*

The website containing the details of 700 University of Lincoln students has gone offline, The Linc understands.

6 Responses to Personal details of 700 Lincoln students available online

  1. Adam L says:

    I think I know the website you are on about… I also won’t name it, I think it was innocent but obviously something was not right with the “management” with it. I’ve gone back on the website to see and it seems the website has now been removed.

    Perhaps this little publication has done the job of “reminding” them! Who knows. Thanks for the article.

  2. Michael Passingham says:

    Hi there – The website is still up; I just checked it. I did reach out to the website for comment and to suggest they take the data down, but I was unsurprised to receive nothing in return!

  3. Adam L says:

    Oh that’s odd – I’m getting a 404 Not Found page. Maybe their now in the process of getting rid of it! Nice little wake up call me thinks

  4. Joe G says:

    I’m also getting the 404 error, hopefully it stays that way!

  5. Michael Passingham says:

    Yep, it’s down. It appeared to still be up for me because it was in my cache. Or something. Win!

  6. Matt says:

    I knew this would happen, as soon as I found it I emailed the creators to ask them what is stopping non-students from grabbing everyone’s information and suggested using logins with student ids as well as encrypting the personal information.

    Never got a response so I just ignored the page, unsurprised to see it suddenly being called out upon.