More states take on student data privacy legislation

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More than 100 bills related to student data privacy have been introduced in 34 states so far this year, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.

That includes a New Jersey bill that would require the education commissioner to provide direction and technical assistance to schools about preventing and responding to data breaches, and California legislation that would expand the existing privacy law to cover kids in pre-kindergarten.

Since an incident in a Massachusetts district was flagged by the American Civil Liberties Union last year, nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina and the District of Columbia — have committed to introducing legislation modeled on the ACLU’s recommendations to protect students’ information.

NASBE revealed the findings during a webinar along with the Data Quality Campaign.

The ACLU-backed bills address student devices, bring your own device programs and student social media accounts.

West Springfield Public Schools used GoGuardian software installed on Chromebooks that allowed the district to track student activities on school-issued laptops, including via a webcam on the computers and keystroke logging.

State legislatures are taking note of the risks.

Connecticut passed a bill that requires local education agencies to electronically notify parents each time school districts sign a new contract. A Colorado bill, which is awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature, requires state education agencies to develop a model privacy policy that each school district must adopt. Hearing procedures would also have to be in place in cases of data breaches or problems by contractors.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to properly attribute the organization that reported the policy updates. It was the National Association of State Boards of Education, not the Data Quality Campaign.

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

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