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This Week in Student Privacy: 2/3

Draft of Obama’s Student Privacy Bill Prompts Debate
Education Week obtained “a draft of the ‘Student Digital Privacy and Innovation Act,’ which President Obama called for in his speech at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on January 12.” Benjamin Herold of Education Week wrote in his piece that the draft “focuses primarily on prohibiting targeted and behavioral advertising” and would be enforced by the FTC. As Education Week is paywalled, EdSurge published a summary of the draft and Herold’s article. According to EdSurge, Herold “compares the proposed rules with SOPIPA, California’s student data privacy law, passed in September 2014 and heralded by Obama during his January speech on data privacy,” and touches on some additions to SOPIPA, such as “including ‘statistical inferences’ made by companies as protected student information.” In addition, EdSurge reports that, “[u]nlike SOPIPA, the federal draft doesn’t explicitly prohibit vendors from assembling profiles of students for non-educational uses” and that “[v]endors would also be able to use student information collected in an educational application to target advertising to students beyond the site.” According to EdSurge, “[p]rivacy advocates have already raised concerns, like Hack Education’s Audrey Watters' and FunnyMonkey’s Bill Fitzgerald's criticism of the administration as making ‘huge concessions to edtech companies.’” For more on this story, visit readwrite and Politico (Tony Romm wrote an article about the White House’s preparations to send “a sweeping online privacy proposal to Congress that would restrict how companies like Google and Facebook handle consumer data while greatly expanding the power of the Federal Trade Commission to police abuses — ideas that are likely to incite strong opposition in Congress”).

Student Privacy Pledge Gains New Signatory
Last week, ed tech company Imagine Learning signed the Student Privacy Pledge, joining several big name ed tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft in an effort to protect student privacy.

Additional Articles/Resources

  • The Recorder published an article on how the “Ed Tech Boom Brings New Test for Privacy Regulators.”
  • BBC News published an article about the implications of a new Illinois law “that charges public schools with the task of investigating instances of bullying,” including cyberbullying, “particularly when it's combined with [another recently passed law] that allows administrators to request a student's [social media account] login information when they think they are cyberbullying or breaking other school rules.”
  • Illinois’ Journal-Courier published a piece on the questionable constitutionality of schools’ investigating students’ social media activity.
  • Watchdog.org published an article on how the private data of individuals with federal student loans is at risk. According to the article, “[i]f [a student with federal loans] slip[s] into default on [their] promised repayments, the Federal Student Loan Administration gives [their] data to a pool of private companies that collect the debt.”

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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