The Student Digital Privacy Act

The Student Digital Privacy Act
March 1, 2015 Daren Nelson

student digital privacy actLast month, President Obama announced a new piece of legislation designed to protect American students. The proposed Student Digital Privacy Act would ensure that any data collected in an educational environment could only be used for educational purposes. This issue is becoming increasingly important as the role of technology in the classroom grows exponentially.

Parental Concerns

This couldn’t have come at a better time; parents have become increasingly concerned about the security of their children’s digital presence in recent years. Public pressure, protests, and lawsuits even contributed to the shutting down of inBloom, a $100 million student data collection project funded by the Gates Foundation.

According to the White House release, the Student Digital Privacy act would prevent companies and institutions from selling student data to third parties. Similarly to California’s Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, data collected in schools could not be used for advertising or marketing purposes or for any reason other than education.

The Right To Be Protected

President Obama stated that every individual has a sphere of privacy around them, and they have the right to keep this unbreached, despite increasing connection and accessibility via technology and the Internet: “If we’re going to be connected, then we need to be protected”.

The White House also announced that the Privacy Technical Assistance Center will be training teachers to make sure that educational data is used in the correct manner, maximizing compliance with the new legislation.

The proposed legislation does have its skeptics; Leonie Haimson, one of the key activists responsible for the downfall of inBloom, stated: “We see this as a very weak proposal… it doesn’t stop a lot of what we were concerned about”. Haimson states that Student Digital Privacy Act doesn’t address the much wider issue of parents not being notified when data is collected on their children. It cannot be denied, however, that this is a step in the right direction of student privacy.

For more information on the Student Digital Privacy Act, you can read the White House’s Fact Sheet: Safeguarding American Consumers & Families

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Is security in the classroom improving, or do we still have a long way to go? We’d love to hear your thoughts; get in touch on Twitter or Facebook!

Photo by: Lucélia Ribeiro