- The Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday by Congressmen Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO).
- According to a release on Polis' site, the legislation would bar ed tech providers from directing advertising at students, selling student data to third parties, or creating non-school-related student profiles, as well as requiring them to disclose to schools and the public what kind of information they're collecting and how it will be used.
- The bipartisan legislation has support from the American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of School Administrators, Common Sense Media, the National PTA, the Data Quality Campaign, the Colorado Association of School Executives, and more than a dozen other education groups, parent associations, industry leaders, and privacy advocates.
This legislation comes amid concerns over the potential misuse of student data and that existing laws like FERPA and COPPA don't do enough to prevent that from happening — which are valid when you consider that new technological developments might not technically fall under existing protections. Polis perhaps best sums up the current state of student data protection, saying, "It’s like the Wild Wild West – there are few regulations protecting students' privacy and parental rights, and the ones that do exist were written in an age before smartphones and tablets."
Speaking of new developments, the bill takes a strong stance against the increasing threat of data breaches, requiring tech providers to utilize strong security protocols and, if a breach does occur, to inform the FTC and any potential victims. Additionally, the release states that parents would be able to authorize the non-educational use of data, access or correct that data, or request that it be deleted if it isn't required by the school.
President Barack Obama previously pushed for the passage of a Student Digital Privacy Act in January, and Reps. Messer and Polis previously collaborated on an effort that produced the Student Privacy Pledge, which currently has 137 signatories including giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft.