Category:  Politics

Parents Fight for Students’ Privacy Rights

Parents have joined forces over the past year to lobby against both government and private-sector data-mining practices on students.

The “amateur activists” first focused on privately owned data collection agencies, which were able to advance unhindered in the wake of the scandals surrounding the NSA and the subsequent Congressional crackdown. The most powerful organizations are now able to collect “as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day,” according to POLITICO. One such company, inBloom, cracked earlier this spring under the growing pressure of the parent-led privacy movement.

Now, parents are shifting their focus to state databases that are currently being built to collect information on children for the first twenty years of their lives. The government intends to use this information to create a more efficient education system, although each state has the autonomy to determine how to accomplish this goal. Indiana, for example, aims to use the data to counsel children in elementary and secondary schools about potential career options, while Maryland has implemented a program that highlights any children at risk of dropping out in the future, according to POLITICO.

Although the intentions behind the data-mining are far from sinister, parents remain deeply fearful. Since the data is stored in such a way that accessing one particular child’s information is nearly impossible, parents have no way of knowing what information is being collected and how it is being used. Parents are also concerned about the security of the data, particularly since there is no limit on how long the state can hold the records.

Just recently, the government has also begun to focus on student privacy rights, particularly in regard to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Within the past month, the White House released a report recommending the modernization of the act, and Senators Markey and Hatch proposed a bipartisan bill to resolve student privacy issues. It remains to be seen whether parents will continue to influence legislators with the same force as demonstrated in the past year.

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