Senators Propose Legislation to Protect Student Privacy

The “Protecting Student Privacy Act” would make preK-12 schools implement safeguards to protect student data held by private companies.

WASHINGTON—Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have introduced the “Protecting Student Privacy Act” that is designed to make schools implement safeguards to protect student data held by private companies.

Nearly all school districts rely on cloud services for a diverse range of functions that include data collection and analysis related to student performance and data hosting, claims the senators in a press release. However, one survey found only 25% of districts inform parents of their use of cloud services and 20% of districts fail to have policies governing the use of online services. Recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) have allowed for this increased sharing and use of student data in the private sector.

The new legislation is intended to better protect student information. Specifically, the bill:

  • Requires that data security safeguards be put in place to protect sensitive student data that is held by private companies;
  • Prohibits the use of students’ personally identifiable information to advertise or market a product or service;
  • Provides parents with the right to access the personal information about their children – and amend that information if it is incorrect – that is held by private companies;
  • Makes transparent the names of all outside parties that have access to student information;
  • Minimizes the amount of personally identifiable information that is transferred from schools to private companies; and
  • Ensures private companies cannot maintain detailed inventories on students in perpetuity by requiring the companies to delete personally identifiable information when the information is no longer used for its specified purpose.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and John Walsh (D-Mont.).

Read the legislation.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, by Scrumshus

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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