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This Week in Student Privacy: 4/7

Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act Delayed Further
According to Politico’s Morning Education, “Reps. Jared Polis and Luke Messer had planned to introduce a student data privacy bill last week, but their draft drew fierce criticism from both parent activists (who deemed it too weak) and ed-tech lobbyists (who viewed it as too tough).” They therefore “quickly pulled back the bill for a rewrite,” and it now “could be mid-April before the new version emerges.” Although (according to Carl Szabo “policy counsel for the trade association NetChoice”) “the top priority for ed-tech firms is to get a federal bill that preempts state data privacy legislation,...Polis and Messer aren't interested in creating a national standard.” Rather, “they've described their bill as a floor and invited states to craft tougher laws if citizens demand more privacy protection.” Meanwhile, “Rep. Todd Rokita has been mulling a separate bill to update the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).” Politico added that “[p]rivacy activists will be watching closely to see if Rokita expands the definition of "educational record” to extend FERPA's privacy protections to all the data children shed when they're using educational apps, e-textbooks and other online tools.”

Hillsborough County Proposes New Policy on Student-Teacher Interactions Online
Last week, The Tampa Tribune published an article detailing Hillsborough County’s proposed “new policy that spells out how teachers should go about interacting with students on social media networks.” According to the article, “[t]he proposed policy allows teachers to communicate with their students via district-sanctioned social media accounts with their principal’s permission and bans them from using personal accounts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to interact with their students.” In addition, the proposed policy “lays out student privacy laws.” Rick Laneau, Hillsborough County’s “executive officer of IT compliance,” said the new policy comes in an effort “to protect both students and teachers.”

DQC Update: FERPA Amendment & State Updates
According to Paige Kowalski, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at the Data Quality Campaign, a “discussion draft of a proposed FERPA amendment” was released yesterday by Reps. Bobby Scott (ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee) and John Kline (Chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee). In addition, “2015 has so far seen 165 [privacy] bills introduced in 42 states” and “6 student data privacy laws—3 in Virginia, 3 in Utah.”


  • New Tech City is currently doing a series on ed tech, and a recent episode covered ClassDojo & privacy - check it out!
  • THE Journal published a piece on Pearson’s monitoring practices and whether they might affect adoption of the Common Core.
  • The San Jose Mercury News published an article on the economical appeal of Google’s newest model of Chromebook.
  • Steve Silvius wrote an article for EdSurge about how “underlying all of [the recent student privacy] concerns is uncertainty around an edtech business model that promotes software as free.”
  • Last week, ed tech company ProctorU 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.
  • More on the Pearson monitoring controversy: The Albuquerque Journal, Education Week, One News Now.
  • Last week, the Heartland Institute's Daily Podcast featured “Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, [who spoke with Heather Kays] about the current state of student privacy laws in the U.S.” (about the Pearson monitoring controversy and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Luke Messer’s (R-IN) proposed bill to protect student privacy).
  • The National Association of State Boards of Education recently released a new student data privacy policy brief.
  • The Daily Bruin published an op-ed piece arguing that University of California “should protect student privacy” and “take steps to prevent data mining.”
  • JD Supra published an article arguing that states are paving the way for student data privacy legislation while federal efforts to protect student privacy are falling behind.
  • The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch published an article about the large profits of school testing corporations, and how “student privacy interests are taking a back seat to securing lucrative contracts.”
  • EqualFuture reports how body-worn cameras in schools have sparked privacy concerns.

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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Student Privacy Initiative

The Student Privacy Initiative-- part of the Center's growing suite of Privacy Initiatives-- aims to surface, identify, and evaluate central privacy issues and opportunities that…