Protecting Sensitive Data: Travel Tips

September 21, 2017


Protecting Sensitive Data: Travel Tips for Faculty and Staff
September 20, 2017

Faculty and staff whose university work takes them abroad need to protect sensitive data. UW System Legal Counsel, Matt Lind, recently visited campus to share information on this important topic.

Export controls, known as “sanctions” or “embargos,” are rules that protect U.S. military and economic competitiveness. The controls restrict items or information from the U.S. or a U.S. person to a foreign country or foreign person. Restrictions apply to several countries including China.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) requires that institutions protect the privacy of education records. FERPA violations could occur when an unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable student information occurs; something that could happen when student data is carried through borders.

Protect sensitive data. Bring only needed data and software, and explore whether export controls apply. If you are unsure or believe export controls may apply, contact UW System Legal Counsel to seek help or to obtain a license.

If a laptop is required for your international work, bring a wiped laptop that contains only basic software, such as those available to checkout through Media Technology Services at /mts/equipment-checkout. Faculty may request extended check out timeframes to accommodate travel.

Think about the content you have on your phone or mobile device. Customs agents can look at all content your carry through borders. What type of information is included in your emails and attachments? The following steps are recommended to prepare your mobile devices for travel:
1. Contact your service provider or vendor and ask them to walk through the following process
2. Back up the data you want to keep
3. Delete this data from your device
4. Reset the device to factory settings
5. Travel
6. Download the needed data from the backup
7. Repeat steps 2-6 at each border crossing

If you have additional questions, feel free to contact Compliance Services at to request Matt Lind’s presentation materials.  Visit the Compliance Services website at /compliance to explore compliance resources now available at UW-Platteville.

Content in this article is adapted by Denise LaBudda from Matt Lind’s presentation, “International Travel for Faculty – July 26, 2017” presented at UW-Platteville, September 19, 2017.

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