The VLDS Privacy Promise
“We, the members of VLDS, promise to protect the privacy and confidentiality of data entrusted to us. VLDS is designed to meet or exceed all state and federal privacy laws and requirements.”
How VLDS is Built to Keep That Promise
VLDS was designed to balance privacy against the ability to discover insights about Virginia’s education, workforce, higher education, and health policies and programs. These insights can lead to increased agency performance, improved government policy, and improved citizen outcomes.
To ensure privacy:
VLDS does NOT collect data from citizens. VLDS was designed by the participating agencies as a system that facilitates the merging of administrative data in a highly controlled environment. VLDS uses technology that strips “identifiable data” (i.e. any information that identifies an individual) not once but twice before data is released to researchers.
VLDS is a “federated” model for longitudinal data. Rather than build a “data warehouse” to collect and store all of the citizen data collected by VLDS partners, which would have required the duplication of private data (and redundant infrastructure to support and protect that data), Virginia built a system that leaves agency data where it has always been: secure within the participating agencies’ data enclave and behind each agency’s fire walls.
One cannot simply walk up (login) to VLDS to initiate a data merge. Data requests can only be made by vetted researchers who have completed an application process and whose research questions have been reviewed and validated by VLDS participating agencies. Then, all researchers within the system are assigned a committee of agency “sponsors” who guide and oversee the process — all in the name of accuracy AND privacy. Each step along the way, from access request to publication of results, must be approved by the researcher’s sponsoring agency.
The VLDS partnership agreement mandates regular meetings, testing and assessments of VLDS to ensure the continued security of the data within the system.