Student Privacy – Does it need changing?
As technology grows, our schools and classrooms are becoming more interconnected with the global community. In an effort to protect their schools and their students, changes to current educational privacy laws are being considered. To best understand what is being proposed by the White House, it is useful to research current U.S. privacy policies concerning students.
Current US Policy
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is the federal law that was enacted in 1974 providing privacy protections on official student educational records. This law applies only to organizations and institutions that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education. Since its inception the law has been modified 28 times, but was most recently amended in 2012 to better regulate student IDs and e-mail addresses. There are 35 states that have additional legislation in place to supplement the protection for educational records provided by FERPA. However, as the law has been modified and changed over the years, the overall theme of the legislation still remains focused on older technologies.
Recently, the White House proposed new legislation “Student Digital Privacy Act” designed to prohibit technology firms from using their products and services to collect information about the students. This proposal has its roots in the recent California legislation SOPIPA (California Student Online Personal Information Protection Act) which goes into effect Jan 1, 2016.
SOPIPA was drafted in partnership with the non-profit Common Sense Media and agreements from many industry leaders calling it the Student Data Privacy Pledge. This pledge states that they would do the following when working with school districts within the State of California. Since in many cases California is considered the litmus test for privacy law, it can be expected that this pledge will be viable in any state that may desire similar language.
- (Will Not) Sell student information
- (Will Not) Behaviorally target their advertising efforts
- (Will) Use data for authorized education purposes
- (Will Not) Change privacy policies without notice and choice
- (Will) Enforce strict limits on data retention
- (Will) Support parental access and correction of errors within their children’s information
- (Will) Provide comprehensive security standards
- (Will) Be transparent about collection and use of data
What to Expect
So, can it be expected that the proposal from White House will be crafted into law? It is hard to say at this point, but it would be safe to anticipate there will be discussion and potentially some form of legislation addressing this issue in the near future. School districts around the U.S. are embracing and integrating the use of technology into their classrooms more than ever before. Thus is it wise to expect that we will see more changes protecting our student’s rights and to reduce the school district’s risk.
Have a blessed day!