California Set to Pass Wide-Ranging Student Data Privacy Law!

Dear Commons Community,

During the past year, 36 states introduced legislation on student information privacy and security. About 30 bills were passed, as varied as measures that ban school districts from collecting details like students’ pregnancy history and those that require education departments to publish lists of the exact data points they collect. California is now close to passing one of the most comprehensive bills in the country. As reported in The New York Times:

“Legislators in the state [California] passed a law last month prohibiting educational sites, apps and cloud services used by schools from selling or disclosing personal information about students from kindergarten through high school; from using the children’s data to market to them; and from compiling dossiers on them. The law is a response to growing parental concern that sensitive information about children — like data about learning disabilities, disciplinary problems or family trauma — might be disseminated and disclosed, potentially hampering college or career prospects. Although other states have enacted limited restrictions on such data, California’s law is the most wide-ranging.

“It’s a landmark bill in that it’s the first of its kind in the country to put the onus on Internet companies to do the right thing,” said Senator Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who wrote the bill.

Gov. Jerry Brown has not taken a public position on the measure…If he does not act, the bill will become law at the end of this month. Senator Steinberg said the bill had broad bipartisan support and was likely to be enacted.”

This type of legislation is overdue and will only have to be strengthened in the future. Data about young people are being collected and the protections are few. While California puts the onus on companies “to do the right thing”, sooner or later a company or two will not do the right thing and confidential student data will seep out into the Internet ether. We only have to look at the hacking scandals that are rocking governments throughout the world to understand that the systems in place protecting data on individuals including children are weak.  Parents would be wise to opt out of any program that move their children’s data into the hands of private enterprises.



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