Senate gets its own bipartisan student privacy bill
- Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have introduced the Protecting Student Privacy Act in the U.S. Senate.
- The bipartisan bill aims to bar student-identifiable information from being used for ads and marketing, give parents the right to access student info in the hands of private companies and edit it if they find an error, make transparent the names of all third parties using student data, and require private parties to delete student information when it is no longer pertinent.
- The bill is informed by the fact that many schools are turning to technology like the cloud, where additional steps are needed to safeguard data. According to Markey's website, one survey found only 25% of districts informing parents that cloud-based services were in use and 20% failing to have policies in place.
The Senate isn't alone in making a bipartisan effort on student privacy. A few weeks ago, Reps. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 in the House. While the bills have similar goals, their approaches differ slightly. Both prohibit directly advertising to students, the House legislation seems more explicit in its ban on the selling of student data to third parties, creating non-school related profiles of students, and requiring all private companies to disclose what information they are collecting on students, as well as how they plan to use said information. Messer and Polis have been working on this sort of legislation for a bit, their previous efforts resulted in the Student Privacy Pledge, which has been signed by the likes of Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
It's clear that there is a lot of interest in creating legislation that goes above and beyond existing laws like FERPA and COPPA — bills that can ensure student data will be protected as classrooms depend more and more on technology.
- U.S. Senator Ed Markey Markey, Hatch Introduce Legislation to Protect Student Privacy