During his speech earlier this week at the Federal Trade Commission, President Obama unveiled a set of proposals to enhance student privacy protections. These proposals will include publishing a draft Student Digital Privacy Act, promoting an existing Student Privacy Pledge for educational technology providers, and introducing new privacy tools through the Department of Education.
The Student Digital Privacy Act will be modeled on a recently enacted California student privacy statute and will incorporate recommendations from the White House Big Data and Privacy Report. Although the White House has not yet released the text of the proposed bill, a White House fact sheet states that the bill will ensure “that data collected in the educational context is used only for educational purposes.” The bill would prohibit companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes unrelated to “the educational mission.” Companies would also be barred from delivering targeted advertising to students based on data collected in an educational context. However, the White House has indicated that the bill will permit research “to improve student learning outcomes,” as well as efforts to improve the effectiveness of educational products. Once the text of the Student Digital Privacy Act is released, Inside Privacy will update this post with a full analysis of the proposed bill.
In addition to the Student Data Privacy Act, President Obama also highlighted the success of the Student Privacy Pledge, which 75 companies have agreed to abide by. The Pledge protects against the misuse of student data by restricting the collection, use, and disclosure of student data for non-educational purposes. In addition, companies that sign onto the Pledge must make clear disclosures in their privacy policies, provide students with means to access their data, and maintain a comprehensive security program to protect student data. Finally, President Obama also announced that the Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) will be releasing a model terms of service for educational technology, as well as materials to assist in training teachers on educational privacy issues. Previously, PTAC has released guidance for cloud computing providers and providers of online educational services, more generally.