On January 14, 2014, Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) announced that he plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to ensure that safeguards are in place for student data shared with third parties. Citing concerns raised by recent changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that have allowed for the increased sharing and use of student data in the private sector, Markey stated that the legislation will include the following components:
Student data should never be used for commercial purposes to market products to children;
Parents should have the right to access the personal information of their children, and amend that information if it’s incorrect, that is held by private companies as they would if the data was held by the school itself;
There must be safeguards put in place to safeguard sensitive student data that is transferred to and then held by private companies; and
Private companies must delete the information that they no longer need to enhance educational quality for students.
In a letter last October, Markey quizzed the Secretary of the Department of Education on these issues, to which the Secretary responded just the day before Senator Markey announced the forthcoming legislation to protect student data.
The to-be-introduced student privacy legislation is the second effort in as many months to use protecting children and teens as the wedge issue to impose privacy on a much broader basis. In November, Markey (re)introduced the “Do Not Track Kids Act of 2013,” which would extend current law and impose new restraints on the online tracking of children and teens under the age of 16.