Aug 15, 2011: Markey, Barton Respond to College Testing and Prep Organizations on Student Privacy

Lawmakers introduced ‘Do Not Track Kids’ legislation to protect online privacy of children and teens

WASHINGTON D.C. –Representatives Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) today released responses to the inquiries they had sent to ACT, Inc., College Board, and the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA) regarding the organizations’ data policies, practices and procedures. A May 13, 2011 Bloomberg News article, “Ivy League Colleges Solicit Students Rejected for Stake of Selectivity”, highlighted several issues with the collection, use, and storage of student’s personal information by College Board and ACT, Inc. Reps. Markey and Barton, co-Chairmen of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, released the following statement in response to the information they received from the three organizations.

“Applying to and entering college is one of the most important times in the lives of millions of American students and their families,” said Rep. Markey. “The organizations that connect students with educational and career opportunities have a special responsibility to safeguard the personal information they collect about students, which could be a treasure trove for identity thieves and other fraudsters.  I appreciate the important services provided by these organizations.  At the same time, improvements in data stewardship should be made, including deletion of student data after a reasonable period of time to reduce the risk of breach.  As part of my ongoing privacy and data security work, I will continue to monitor these important issues.”

“After reviewing the responses submitted, I am happy to know that these companies are indeed committed to ensuring the success of future college students,” said Rep. Barton. “Every organization focused on the importance of helping universities and education programs connect with students who show an interest in educationally-related information. While the intentions behind these initiatives are good, I am left with a few more questions on the exact methods used by these organizations to protect student data.  As an advocate for privacy, I feel a sense of duty to ensure that our children’s personal information is secure on the Internet, and I am looking forward to continuing my dialogue with these organizations.”

In May, Reps. Markey and Barton introduced the “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011”, legislation that amends the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 to extend, enhance and update the provisions relating to the collection, use and disclosure of children’s personal information.  The legislation also establishes new protections for the personal information of children and teens.

Reps. Markey and Barton have been congressional leaders on providing privacy protections for personal consumer information. The lawmakers have investigated the data privacy and security practices of Google, Apple, Facebook, the four major wireless carriers and the Social Security Administration.

A copy of the letters sent by Reps. Markey and Barton can be found below.

The responses from the organizations can be found below.