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The union will be charged $12 per student by Equifax. Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum.
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UOSU also revealed they will be paying around $12 per student affected by accidental publication of Food Bank Google Form

On Jan. 7, the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) announced that it had retained the services of Equifax to protect the information of students after the union accidentally published a Google Form containing the names and private information of students who used its Food Bank.

If the name “Equifax” sounds familiar, it’s because they were also hired to help protect the private information of more than 4.2 million Desjardins members after the Quebec-based financial co-operative suffered a massive theft of member data in 2019. 

At the time, numerous media outlets in the province were quick to criticize the monitoring service after multiple Francophone Desjardins members reported issues with Equifax’s french services. 

The Montreal Gazette reported on July 5, 2019, that “there were many complaints: long waiting times, difficult to access and clients unable to get service in French.”

With the University of Ottawa priding itself on its status as a bilingual institution, it stands to reason that a number of individuals whose names were found on the Food Bank’s Google Form will require services in French from Equifax. 

“To my understanding they’re bilingual,” wrote UOSU advocacy commissioner Tim Gulliver in a message to the Fulcrum. “But we’ve been offering support to students who have been having trouble throughout.”

When asked, Equifax guaranteed that “Francophone students [will] be served in French” stating that Equifax has been “averaging 30 seconds or less answer times throughout 2020/21 for both French and English callers.”

The Fulcrum inquired about the sum that the UOSU had to pay to retain Equifax’s services. Although the monitoring service refused to disclose the information, Gulliver revealed that the union was paying “$12 per code,” in other words, $12 per student affected. 

In total, according to the UOSU, 94 students had their personal information revealed publicly via the Google Form meaning the incident will cost the union around $1,128.