House Subcommittees Hold Joint Hearing on Data Mining and Student Privacy

by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Contact

Today, the House Education Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies held a joint hearing on data mining and student privacy. The hearing was relatively short, with only the chairman and ranking member of each subcommittee, along with three other members, in attendance.

The general tone of the hearing was that the collection and use of student data can be a powerful tool that can significantly impact student performance and learning, and that Congress should be careful not to inhibit its use for educational purposes; however, both members and witnesses cautioned that there is potential for data to be misused for non-educational purposes, and that existing law and school system security practices may not be doing enough to safeguard the data.

A key issue at the hearing was a Fordham University study authored by witness Joel Reidenberg that found that a majority (95 percent) of school districts outsource some form of student data, and that only 7 percent of school districts had specific provisions in their vendor contracts that required third parties to keep student data secure and prohibited the sale or use of the data except for educational purposes. Reidenberg called for Congress to update privacy laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to apply to third-party vendors (currently the law only applies to educational institutions).

Mark McCarthy, Vice President of the Software & Information Industry Association, pushed back against Mr. Reidenberg’s assertions, and noted that the study found no actual evidence that student data was being abused by third parties, only that the school district contracts did not contain security provisions. McCarthy pointed out that under FERPA and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), student data is prohibited from being used or sold for non-educational purposes, and that if a third party wished to do so, they must obtain the parents’ permission. McCarthy told lawmakers that updates to existing law were unnecessary, especially given the recent FERPA guidance issued by the Department of Education. The other two witnesses. Chief Information Officer for the Idaho Department of Education Joyce Popp and State and District Digital Learning Director for the Alliance for Excellent Education Thomas Murray provided district-or administrator-level examples of what schools are doing currently to protect student data, and the beneficial nature of such data for educational purposes.

Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Pat Meehan (R-PA) asked several questions about the scope for potential misuse or sale of student data by third parties. Mr. Reidenberg explained that FERPA only covers certain types of data and cannot be used to prevent the misuse or sale of all types data. He also clarified (as Mr. McCarthy did) that his study found no evidence of abuse, only a lack of security-specific language or provisions in school contracts.

Homeland Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Yvette Clark (D-NY) asked a pointed question about what requirements should be placed on for-profit third-party vendors. Mr. Reidenberg answered that there are a variety of requirements such as data protection, breach notification, prohibition of sale to other parties, etc. that should be, but often are not, included in vendor contracts.

Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) asked several questions about the state of Idaho’s approach to student data privacy (based on witness Joyce Popp’s testimony), and indicated he believed that a state-by-state approach to privacy regulation was the most sensible.

Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Dave Loebsack (D-IA) asked what should be done to improve states’ and school districts’ contracting processes. Mr. Murray stated that there should, at a minimum, be annual contract reviews, annual audits of who has access to student data, and that a set of “best practices” should be developed and shared among states/districts.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Contact
more
less

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!