New student privacy act neglects higher ed
- The Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 notably ignores higher education in its limitations on student data by ed tech companies.
- The bill, which will be filed by U.S. Reps. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared S. Polis (D-CO) later this week after a delay Monday, is seen by some as a missed opportunity to address privacy on a broader level and has been referred to as "myopic" in its scope, according to Inside Higher Ed.
- The White House did reportedly have discussions with one higher ed organization, but that was the extent of talks about expanding the bill to include students over 18.
Ultimately, as Inside Higher Ed points out, many weren't surprised by the omission of higher ed from the bill—including legal experts. After all, President Barack Obama's initial push for improved privacy laws focused largely on students under 18. Inside Higher Ed also reports that the K-12 focus plays to the higher likelihood of passage for a law protecting minors over legal adults. But with more college students utilizing social media for communication over face-to-face interaction, there may be more data out there to collect among that demographic, and it remains to be seen how the law might impact things like political activism on campuses.
While FERPA and COPPA arguably already cover many of the data concerns in the K-12 space, new legislation would address potential loopholes in those laws created by the rapid advancement of new technologies. Higher ed will likely have its day in the privacy spotlight sooner or later, but when that might be is currently anyone's guess.
- Inside Higher Ed No Expectation of Privacy
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