At a briefing on Capitol Hill hosted by EPIC, Senator Ed Markey announced plans to introduce legislation protecting student data. Senator Markey set out four principles his bill would cover: (1) student information may never be used to market products to children; (2) parents must have the right to access and amend student information held by private companies; (3) schools and private companies must safeguard student information; and (4) companies must delete student information after it is no longer needed for educational purposes. Senator Markey made the remarks at EPIC event “Failing Grade: Education Records and Student Privacy,” which included leading experts in technology, student privacy, and the Chief Privacy Officer at the Department of Education. Last year, Senator Markey sent a letter to the Education Department, requesting information on the “impact of increased collection and distribution of student data” on privacy. The Education Department provided a response, suggesting that when schools outsource to private companies, they should ensure that the companies protect student data. For more information, see EPIC: Student Privacy.
In a press release issued yesterday, Senator Markey writes:
As data analytics companies increasingly play a role in the education area, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today announced plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to ensure that safeguards are in place for students data shared with third parties. 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. The student data 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. In October, Senator Markey wrote 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.
“Putting students’ sensitive information in private hands raises a number of concerns about the privacy rights of parents and their kids, some who may be as young as five years old,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “The time to act is now, before parents lose control of their children’s personal information. Parents, not private companies, have the right to control personal information about their children. We should help student scholars make the grade, not help companies make a sale. I look forward to working with my colleagues to introduce and pass this important and timely legislation.”
Senator Markey’s legislation will be guided by the following principles:
- Student data should never be used for commercial purposes – to market products to kids.
- Parents should have the right to access the personal information about their children, and amend that information if it’s incorrect, that is held by private companies as they would if the data was held by the school itself.
- There must be safeguards put in place to safeguard sensitive student data that is transferred to and then held by private companies.
- Private companies must delete the information that they no longer need to enhance educational quality for students.
A copy of DOE’s response to Senator Markey can be found HERE.
In November, Senator Markey introduced the bipartisan, bicameral ‘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.