Educational privacy is big news these days, as the recent joint House subcommittee hearing on data mining and student privacy makes clear. With big data and new technologies finding their way into more and more classrooms each year, schools are proving to be a fertile ground for impassioned discussions about how students’ data should be collected, used and protected.
While many have called for amendments to national educational protections, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Congress has been slow to react. State legislators, on the other hand, have taken up the issue of student privacy with gusto. In the past 6 months, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) has tracked 109 bills related to student data privacy introduced in 35 states, including 21 bills that have been passed into law.
To help you keep on top of this legislative frenzy, the IAPP is releasing a comprehensive U.S. Student Privacy Legislative Matrix compiled by the Data Quality Campaign. The matrix details dozens of the state bills seeking to regulate practices or policies around student data privacy that have been introduced since January 1, 2014. Specifically, the comprehensive matrix lists legislative proposals by state and includes the bill number and title, with a working link to the bill text; a concise summary of each bill; its date of introduction, and its current legislative status.
The bills address the topic in many different ways: some prohibit certain uses of student data, for example, while others seek to create new information governance structures. The bills also target a range of actors, including school districts, vendors and service providers (especially in cloud computing) and public agencies. The patchwork of state privacy laws is expanding rapidly, introducing myriad new standards for the collection, use, security and governance of student data both in and out of the classroom. Although the specific definitions and requirements vary from state to state, the trend toward increased student privacy regulation is clear.
Parents, teachers and advocates continue to clamor for new solutions to alleged weaknesses in the current protections for student data—and state legislators are quickly trying to provide them. Using this matrix, privacy professionals, educational technology vendors, educators, parents and anyone else who is interested can keep on top of the changing educational privacy landscape. School may be out for the summer, but this latest wave of state privacy legislation shows no signs of slowing, so check back for updates. It’s a good time to study up.
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