Senators Markey & Hatch Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Student Privacy

Focuses on need to protect students, provide tools to parents when information is shared with third parties

Washington (April 7, 2017) - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) this week reintroduced the “Protecting Student Privacy Act”, legislation that would help safeguard the educational records of students in the digital world. The PreK-12 educational software and digital content market currently is worth more than $8 billion, with approximately 95 percent of school districts sending student records to companies that manage important necessary school services. However, only seven percent of the same school districts sign contracts that directly prevent the companies from selling students’ data that includes everything from grades, to test scores, attendance records and family relationships. Senators Markey and Hatch’s legislation updates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for the 21st century to ensure that students are better protected in an interconnected world.

“Data analysis holds promise for increasing student achievement, but it also holds peril from a privacy perspective,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.“There are threats to students when their personal information is in the hands of third-parties and big corporations, and we need to make sure parents have the tools to protect their children. A child’s educational record should not be sold as a product on the open market. Protecting privacy is a bipartisan priority, and I thank Senator Hatch for his partnership on this important legislation.”

 

“Teachers and schools need to be able to use data to improve instruction and better serve students, but we must balance this demand for data with students’ right to privacy,” said Senator Hatch, a current member and former Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “This legislation creates greater transparency for families while also guaranteeing the safe and responsible use of student data. Schools must be transparent in their partnerships with private companies and ensure that information is obtained, used, and stored in a way that protects sensitive information.”

 

A copy of the Protecting Student Privacy Act can be found HERE.

 

The Protecting Student Privacy Act of 2017:

  • 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 names 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. 

 

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