Senator introduced “Protecting Student Privacy Act” with Senator Hatch to protect students, provide tools to parents when information is stored in the cloud

Washington (September 2, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement today about the hacking of iCloud accounts. In July, Senators Markey and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced S. 2690, the Protecting Student Privacy Act, legislation that would help safeguard the educational records of students that are being increasingly stored in the cloud by school districts. Recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) have allowed for this increased sharing and use of student data in the private sector. 


“The hacking of iCloud accounts underscores the need for strong privacy protections for sensitive information stored in the cloud. Next time it won’t be celebrity secrets but students’ educational records that rain down from the cloud for the world to see. Nearly all school districts rely on cloud services for functions such as information collection and analysis related to student performance and data hosting, but 20 percent of districts fail to have policies governing the use of online services. 


“The compromise of celebrity information should signal the beginning of a big debate on how to strengthen the protections of American children’s most sensitive data that is now being stored in the cloud. We need to pass student privacy legislation that requires companies to put in place data security safeguards that protect information they house about our children in the classroom.”


The bipartisan Protecting Student Privacy Act

• Requires that data security safeguards be put in place to protect sensitive student data that is held by private companies; 
• Prohibits the use of students’ personally identifiable information to advertise or market a product or service; 
• Provides parents with the right to access the personal information about their children – and amend that information if it is incorrect – that is held by private companies; 
• Makes transparent the name of all outside parties that have access to student information; 
• Minimizes the amount of personally identifiable information that is transferred from schools to private companies; and 
• Ensures private companies cannot maintain detailed inventories on students in perpetuity by requiring the companies to delete personally identifiable information when the information is no longer used for its specified purpose.