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Obama Administration Calls for Laws Covering Student Privacy

Obama Administration Calls for Laws Covering Student Privacy

President Obama has called for federal legislation intended to protect student data.

The proposed Student Data Privacy Act would "prohibit technology firms from profiting from information collected in schools as teachers adopt tablets, online services and Internet-connected software," according to an article on NYTimes.com. The article also said that Obama would announce "voluntary agreements by companies to safeguard home energy data and to provide easy access to credit scores as an 'early warning system' for identity theft."

“If we’re going to be connected, then we need to be protected. As Americans, we shouldn’t have to forfeit our basic privacy when we go online to do our business," Obama said. “Each of us as individuals have a sphere of privacy around us that should not be breached, whether by our government, but also by commercial interests.”

According to the article, the administration's student privacy effort "comes as schools across the country are adopting digital education products — including math textbooks and online homework portals — that can collect information about a student’s every keystroke. The premise behind the data collection is to customize lessons to the academic needs and learning preferences of each child."

"But these data-mining practices have begun to trouble some parents, who say they are concerned that education technology companies could potentially collect — and later share — sensitive details about, for example, a child’s disciplinary record or a family’s financial status," the article said.

To "alleviate" those kinds of concerns, the article said, "California last summer enacted a comprehensive education privacy law that largely prohibits companies from collecting student information for advertising and marketing. Children’s advocates applauded Mr. Obama’s plans for a similar law."

"You can’t have all this potentially positive use of technology in schools without privacy protection for students, their families and teachers,” said James P. Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media.

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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