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This Week in Student Privacy: 3/3

White House Releases Draft of “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights”
Last Friday, “[t]he Obama administration released a draft of new data privacy legislation [the proposed legislation can be found here], renewing a debate over how to regulate companies that collect consumer data from sensors, apps and web clicks.” According to The Wall Street Journal, “[t]he draft of a so-called Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights called on companies to explain their privacy and security practices in ‘concise and easily understandable language;’ let consumers see, correct, and delete information that companies hold about them; and not resell or reuse data in ways that would cause consumers fear or surprise.” In addition, “[t]he bill would require industries to establish codes of conduct around data,” “would call on companies to create privacy review boards overseen by the Federal Trade Commission,” and “would require companies to consider the so-called ‘disparate impact’ of big data algorithms – whether data mining, particularly from new online data sources, could result in discrimination against certain groups of people.” According to The New York Times, “some privacy advocates immediately jumped on the proposed legislation, saying it failed to go far enough,” and that “the bill would give too much leeway to companies and not enough power to consumers.” For example, the Center for Digital Democracy said the “Consumer Privacy Bill Fails to Protect Consumers” and “Gives Greater Control of our Information to Data Companies.” Senator and privacy advocate Ed Markey (Dem. MA) reacted to the proposed bill by saying: “We didn’t celebrate a great victory yesterday in the fight to protect the Internet for American consumers just to turn around and enable their online information to be easy prey for digital bandits seeking to pilfer Americans’ personal information.” According to Government Executive, Markey said that “[r]ather than supporting the White House's bill…he plans to reintroduce his own privacy legislation next week that would crack down on ‘data brokers’—firms that buy and sell personal information.” On the other hand, some, such as Microsoft, “heralded the draft bill as a welcome first step in improving consumer trust in how companies handled their information.”

U.S. Department of Education Releases Student Online Privacy Resources
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education “released model terms of service guidance to help schools identify which online educational services and apps have strong privacy and data security policies to protect our students.” The guidance “is intended to assist users in understanding how a given online service or app will collect, use and/or transmit user information, so that they can then decide whether or not to sign up.” The Department of Education also released a training video which “offers a short summary of the [student privacy] issue and provides some examples to help educators identify which online educational services and applications are privacy-friendly and protect student data from improper use and disclosure.”

Rethink Education and the Future of Privacy Forum Host Data Privacy Bootcamp
Last week, “[w]ith education technology companies facing increasing pressure to protect students' data,” Rethink Education and the Future of Privacy Forumco-hosted a two-day boot camp” in Washington, D.C. “meant to cut through [education technology] vendors' confusion and make sense of shifting legal obligations.” The event “brought some of the leading thinkers and practitioners from the world of K-12 student data together with the entrepreneurs building the tools that shepherd such data through third party platforms.” According to Education Week, “[t]he boot camp drew about 40 companies, many of them startups or small- to medium-size businesses that aren't likely to have their own lawyers on staff to advise them on how to navigate the legal terrain of student-data privacy.”

Additional Articles/Resources

  • Next week, “the New Hampshire House [of Representatives] will vote on whether schools should be able to compel students to disclose their social media activity.”
  • MyEasternShoreMD wrote a piece on how a new bill in the Maryland state legislature “would block websites, apps and other electronic services designed for school purposes from selling student information for profit, including names, grades and test scores, socioeconomic information, search activity, photos and other student identifiers,” and “prohibit targeted advertising and profiling of individual students by these services.”
  • Oregon’s The Bulletin published an editorial on student privacy and Senate Bill 187 (currently pending before the state legislature), which “would prevent [‘operators of websites as well as mobile and other applications and services’] from creating complete — or incomplete — student profiles for sale or other, non-educational use.” Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer also wrote about Senate Bill 187, emphasizing that the bill is “carefully drafted to help foster innovation and research.”
  • Beth Greenfield for Yahoo Parenting wrote an article about data collection in schools.
  • Cameron F. Kerry (General Counsel of the Department of Commerce) wrote a piece for TechTank (a Brookings blog) about how privacy and cybersecurity issues have “take[n] center stage in recent months.”
  • NPR’s Marketplace looked at how educational technologies are being employed in juvenile detention facilities.

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