NASBE’s Amelia Vance talks with Deseret News about new federal student data privacy legislation.

From Eric Schulzkle’s story: 

“In an era of NSA snooping, email hacking and rampant identity theft, the specter of poorly protected student data strewn throughout cyberspace and being sold to the highest bidder has caught the attention of privacy advocates and, now, policymakers.

In a rare expression of bipartisanship, two congressmen last week introduced a bill to modernize student privacy protections for students.

Advocates on all sides acknowledge that student privacy fears are well-grounded, but there are also strong voices at the table urging that the student privacy protection rules be not so aggressive that they would unduly limit the valuable use of personal data in the classroom, or the use of aggregate data that could help improve teaching across the board.

The Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, authored by Reps. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, and Jared Polis, D-Colorado, is already supported by over 20 education groups, parent associations, industry leaders and privacy advocates.

Concerns over student privacy came to a head last year against a backdrop of generalized concerns about privacy, including ongoing revelations of NSA snooping.

Most incidents so far have involved accidental security breaches, such as lost laptops and flash drives, or data accidentally posted online, said Amelia Vance, director of education data and technology for the National Association of State Boards of Education.

But in December, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing the financial aid website Scholarships.com of selling student information for marketing purposes without permission.

Some of the strongest voices on either side of what could be a sharp divide seem to agree that the bill strikes a good balance. On the one side are those who want free data for more effective teaching and evaluating outcomes. On the other are those primarily concerned with protecting students and families from abuse.

“I’m happy with what they came up with, especially given the variety of parties they had to please,” said Vance.

An earlier draft of the bill circulated several weeks ago, Vance said, and it was significantly improved when the bill’s authors aggressively circulated the bill to stakeholders on all sides and incorporated their reaction into revisions. …”

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