When data privacy finds its way into the President’s State of the Union address, it’s a telltale sign that legislation is on the way—especially when children are involved. Currently three bills to protect student data privacy have been proposed:
- Student Privacy Protection Act: Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
- Student Digital Privacy & Parental Rights Act of 2015: Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO)
- Protecting Student Privacy Act: Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
So which one is most likely to become law? We confess: We’re no Frank Underwood when it comes to tallying votes and predicting where the cards will fall. But there’s dim hope for Vitter’s proposal, according to a survey (PDF) of 50 to 75 political “Insiders” published by Whiteboard Advisors, a Washington, DC-based consulting firm that publishes a monthly pulse check on proposed legislations. These “Insiders” consist of 50 to 75 current and former staff at the White House, Congress, US Department of Education and state education leaders.
“No Insiders think Senator Vitter’s student data privacy bill will be signed into law,” according to the report. It’s more likely that the bill, which one respondent believes would “basically eliminate any positive use of data in education,” will be rolled into other federal privacy legislation. A better bet is the proposal from Senators Hatch and Markey, which 71 percent of respondents agree strikes a balance between privacy and innovation.
Still, 42 percent of Insiders say “none of the current proposals are likely to be the eventual framework,” although a slim majority believe student data privacy legislation will be in place by the end of 2016.
Respondents also weighed in on other education legislation, including proposals to streamline FAFSA and reform college loan financing, which many believe will become law. The reaction is more mixed when it comes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Higher Education Act (HEA), which 57 and 82 percent, respectively, say will not be reauthorized under the Obama administration.