Privacy experts and education advocates hailed President Barack Obama’s proposal Monday to ensure that technology companies cannot sell student data or market products to kids based on their information.
The Student Digital Privacy Act, announced by Obama during a speech Monday, would prevent businesses from selling student information to a third party in order to advertise to kids or using their information for anything other than educational purposes. It is modeled after California legislation, the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, which was signed into law in September.
“We need a structure that ensures that information is not being gathered without us as parents or the kids knowing it,” Obama said at the headquarters of the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees consumer protection efforts on behalf of the federal government. “We want our kids’ privacy protected – wherever they sign in or log on, including at school.”
The Student Digital Privacy Act was one of several measures the president announced Monday aimed at protecting Americans’ data in the wake of stolen data and hacked computer systems that have made headlines in the past year.
“Right now, the majority of students across the nation, their information is simply not protected and it’s ripe for abuse,” said Khaliah Barnes, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s student privacy project,. “You need a strong federal baseline protection to ensure that students’ information is not abused.” The group filed a complaint in 2013 against a company called Scholarships.com, which allegedly shared student data with business partners who they sold the information.
So far, 75 companies including Microsoft, Apple and Amplify have signed a “privacy pledge” to protect student information – but Barnes said that does not go far enough. Developers also applauded Obama’s proposal, which he will speak about again during his State of the Union address next week.
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