​Representatives Propose Legislation to Protect Student Data Privacy

​Representatives Propose Legislation to Protect Student Data Privacy

FEDERAL STEPS: On March 23, Representative Jared S. Polis, Democrat from Colorado, and Representative Luke Messer, Republican from Indiana, proposed a draft of legislation designed to protect K-12 student data privacy. The unreleased “Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act” would prevent edtech companies from using student information to tailor advertisements or creating marketing profiles for students.

The two representatives, who worked closely with the White House to develop the bill after President Obama called for legislation protecting student data privacy in January, anticipate the bill will have bipartisan support. But it seems less likely that the bill will garner approval from both sides of the student data privacy debate.

While at least one edtech provider--Microsoft--has endorsed the bill, according to Politico, advocates of increased regulation, like Khaliah Barnes of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, take issue with wording as too vague, allowing companies to disclose information for purposes like future student “employment opportunities.” Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, responded with concern that the bill does not require parental consent to share or retain student information, and that it creates a new loophole to existing FERPA legislation by allowing custom consent agreements between schools and companies. 

Update: After facing significant criticism, Representatives Polis and Messer announced Monday that they would hold the bill until later in the week. More from Edweek.

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