Senators Call for Better Data Security Guards with New FERPA Legislation

column | Data Privacy

Senators Call for Better Data Security Guards with New FERPA Legislation

Aug 5, 2014

MORE ON THE STUDENT PRIVACY ISSUE: As concerns over the collection of student data and privacy grows, politicians are calling for updates to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, more commonly known as FERPA. Last Wednesday, Senators Ed Markey and Orrin Hatch introduced a "Protecting Student Privacy Act" bill (see full legislation here) seeking to update FERPA. According to Senator Hatch, the bill "establishes security safeguards to ensure greater transparency and access to stored information for students and parents." Additional updates mandated by the bill include:

  • Prohibiting data mining for marketing or advertising purposes
  • Giving parents the right to see information and amend any incorrect data that third parties (including for-profit companies) have in relation to their child
  • Decreasing the amount of personal student information transferred form schools to private companies
  • Making names of third parties with access to student information transparent

However, despite the numerous updates, Politico points out a major loophole in the Markey-Hatch bill: the protections only apply to students' educational records. Student progress on online tutorial platforms, general web activity before engaging in education platforms, and other pieces of "metadata" are not included in this group.

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