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RSS announcements feature no longer available on D2L

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By Georgia Mills

The feature on D2L that allows students to subscribe to RSS announcements from their instructors was disabled last month due to security concerns about the service.

Students can no longer subscribe to announcements from their course instructor through the RSS feed on D2L, said Brian Lesser, the chief of information officer at Ryerson University.

The university notified students about the service being disabled through a mass email on Nov. 6.  

Lesser said that if someone had a link to a course they were no longer enrolled in, they could still access that course’s notifications, which could contain personal information. If an instructor were to reference a student directly or include an email address in an announcement, he said that private information could also be accessed by someone outside of the course.

When it was discovered that the RSS feed posed a potential privacy concern, the university disabled it as a proactive measure. To the university’s knowledge, there have been no instances of the RSS feed being accessed by someone without the proper login credentials.

Lesser said the university’s goal when setting up systems is to have privacy be a default. When implementing the Gmail feature through Ryerson, the school had the option to fill the directory with student information. The university declined.

A request was made to D2L asking if it was possible to only let people who log into D2L see the course feeds they are subscribed to, he said. The university has yet to find out if this is possible.

“We just want to make sure that people know that if they’re expecting notices that they won’t be coming in through RSS and they should subscribe via email,” Lesser said.

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