New laws to protect student data are aiming to protect kids and their families from misuse of personal and financial information.
Students access apps and websites that record their grades, lunch preferences, and attendance records. A new bill pending before the Pennsylvania state legislature in Harrisburg will allow schools to use technologies that share or sell student data, but only after giving parents the opportunity to opt out.
The authors of the bill, Reps. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, and Tedd Nesbit, R-Grove City, believe that the approach will deter technology that does not respect privacy without hurting classroom innovation.
“I want to see us utilize more technology” in schools, said Mr. Nesbit. “But at the same time, we’re putting personal data out there, and people should be aware of it. … Russians and Chinese are trying to hack our schools.”
According to Fordham Law School professor Joel Reidenberg, author of a 2013 study on data privacy in public schools, the legislation is “clearly doing a number of very positive things in the current environment of open hunting season on student information”. He likes the fact that the law requires vendors to tell districts if information on students is breached, and obligates them to keep it secure.