Protecting Confidential and Sensitive Data while using AI


Dear University Community,

As we continue to explore and leverage the power of language model AI (ChatGPT, Bard, BingAI) within our academic environment, it is essential to maintain a strong commitment to safeguarding our data and ensuring the privacy of our community members. We are writing to remind everyone about the importance of not sharing certain types of data while using AI.

AI offers a vast range of capabilities that can be incredibly useful in various academic and creative endeavors. However, it is crucial to remain cautious and mindful of the information we provide to AI, particularly when it comes to confidential, sensitive, or personally identifiable data, including data protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Here are some key points to remember when using AI:

  1. **Avoid Sharing Confidential Information**: Please refrain from inputting or sharing any data that is considered confidential or proprietary. This includes but is not limited to personal identification numbers, financial information, health records, intellectual property, or any other sensitive data that should not be disclosed publicly.
  2. **Protect Sensitive Data**: While AI is designed to be helpful and informative, it is not immune to security risks. Do not share information that could compromise the privacy or security of individuals or entities associated with our University.
  3. **Stay FERPA Compliant**: FERPA protects the privacy of student education records. As such, it is vital not to share any information that could identify individual students or their academic records when using AI.
  4. **Mind the Context**: Be mindful of the context in which you use AI. It is a powerful tool, but its responses are based on the data it has been trained on, which may include publicly available information. Exercise caution when seeking or providing information that could have legal, ethical, or reputational implications.
  5. **Review and Edit**: Before submitting a prompt to AI, take a moment to review your text and ensure that it does not contain any sensitive or confidential information inadvertently.

As a responsible and ethical academic community, it is our collective responsibility to uphold the highest standards of data privacy and security. By following these guidelines, we can confidently explore the potential of AI while protecting the well-being of our University and its members.

If you have any doubts or questions regarding the appropriate use of AI or data privacy concerns, please contact the IT Service Desk via chat at, phone 304-696-3200, or email

Thank you for helping to protect the Marshall community as we continue to provide high-impact academic technology services at Marshall University.


Marshall University Information Technology

Please note ChatGPT assisted in the creation of this message**


Additionally, University Libraries has created a help guide on ethically using generative AI.

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