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This Week in Student Privacy: 5/6

Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act Introduced
Last week, after several delays, Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015. According to Natasha Singer of The New York Times, “the bill would prohibit operators of websites, apps and other online services for kindergartners through 12th graders from knowingly selling students’ personal information to third parties; from using or disclosing students’ personal information to tailor advertising to them; and from creating personal profiles of students unless it is for a school-related purpose.” In addition to giving “parents access to information held about their children” and giving them more jurisdiction over their children’s data, the bill “would allow operators of services to use and disclose aggregated student information without personal identifiers to improve their own educational products or market their effectiveness,” and “would allow companies to sell or disclose student information as part of a merger or acquisition, provided the successor company continued to be subject to the restrictions under which the data was originally collected.”

According to Paige Kowalski, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at the Data Quality Campaign, “11 education organizations including AASA, AFT, National PTA, and ISTE signed a letter of support for the bill,” and “[e]ducation organizations including the Data Quality Campaign have put out statements on the bill, but Microsoft has been the only company so far to publicly come out in favor of it.” Education Week also published an article arguing that while “[a] host of educator groups have already endorsed the bill,” “no broad industry-related groups were among the initial list of endorsers for the bill.” According to The Hill, “[t]he White House [last week] threw its weight behind [the bill]. Also according to The Hill, “Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the [Senate] soon.”

For more:

 

Collaborative Paper Released on Federal Role in Safeguarding Student Data
Last week, “[a] coalition of 18 national organizations, including the Data Quality Campaign, the Consortium for School Networking, and the Future of Privacy Forum,...released a set of recommendations around the federal role in safeguarding student data.” According to EdSurge, the “recommendations, which come on the heels of 173 student privacy laws introduced in 43 states so far in 2015, offer background on which federal agencies uphold existing federal laws, like FERPA, PPRA, and COPPA,” and they “also propose three areas where the federal government should develop a stronger role: establishing clear foundational policies around digital privacy and security; coordinating how different privacy laws work together; and supporting state and local efforts to protect student data.” A DQC statement on the paper can be found here.

Articles/Resources

 

  • The Heartland Institute’s Heartlander Magazine published a piece arguing that “Student Privacy Laws Need Strengthening.”
  • NewsWorks published an article on Delaware’s newly introduced law “that would limit what private companies and contractors can do with student data and set up a governance structure for the state's management of student information.”

This update was compiled by Hannah Offer. Hannah is a senior at the Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences and a research assistant for the Student Privacy Initiative.

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