On January 12 at the Federal Trade Commission President Obama unveiled several programs to protect data privacy and civil liberties. While his administration is targeting privacy at all levels, there are three initiatives aimed specifically at student data.
- The Student Digital Privacy Act: This bill, modeled on a landmark California statute, builds on the recommendations of the White House Big Data and Privacy review that would prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes unrelated to the educational mission and from engaging in targeted advertising to students based on data collected in school.
- New Commitments from the Private Sector to Help Enhance Privacy for Students: President Obama is challenging companies to sign on to the student privacy pledge led by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software & Information Industry Association. (AAP supports the voluntary pledge.)
- New Tools from the Department of Education to Empower Educators Around the Country and Protect Students: The Department of Education and its Privacy Technical Assurance Center are developing model terms of service, as well as teacher training assistance that will enhance the ability to help ensure educational data is used appropriately and in accordance with the educational mission.
“We want to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes other than education. We want to prevent any kind of profiling that outs certain students at a disadvantage as they go through school,” said President Obama at the FTC. “And we believe that [The Student Digital Privacy Act] won’t just give parents more peace of mind. We’re confident that it will make sure the tools we use in the classroom will actually support the breakthrough research and innovations that we need to keep unlocking new educational technologies.”
President Obama’s announcement follows a recent wave of state and federal legislative proposals designed to regulate the use of student data. It is not clear at this point which proposals will move forward at the federal level and whether, if enacted, they would pre-empt state action. AAP will continue to follow all data privacy proposals and will keep its membership informed.
Read the White House fact sheet on Safeguarding American Consumers and Families.