Issuing one press release on Walgreens and medical privacy yesterday, today Senator Markey turned to the privacy of student data:
With the business of storing and sifting through the records of grade school students growing as fast as young students are, today Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Department of Education (DOE) requesting more information on the privacy rights of parents and children when sensitive student information is shared with third parties. A recent The New York Times story reported on the growing trend of school districts around the country outsourcing data storage functions to private companies. The information shared with private companies may vary from information such as grades, test scores, and attendance records, to other data such as disabilities, family relationships, and disciplinary data. Senator Markey’s letter to DOE asks what guidelines are in place for schools and companies and what rights parents have to control the information of their children. Recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) have allowed for the increased sharing and use of student data in the private sector, sometimes without parental notification.
“While the increased use of data analysis of student performance holds promise for increasing student achievement, at the same time there are perils from a privacy perspective,” said Senator Markey. “Putting the sensitive information of students in private hands raises a number of important questions about the privacy rights of students and their parents, who the right to control information about their children. We need to be aware of any threats that are posed to students when their personal information in the hands of private companies, and I look forward to receiving DOE’s responses.”
A copy of Senator Markey’s letter to DOE can be found HERE.
As a member of the House of Representatives in 2011, then-Rep. Markey introduced the ‘Do Not Track Kids Act’, legislation that amends the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998 to extend, enhance and update the provisions relating to the collection, use and disclosure of children’s personal information and establishes new protections for personal information of children and teens. Senator Markey will re-introduce this legislation in the coming weeks.