Senate Passes Student Privacy Legislation

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A joint committee of the House and Senate will consider legislation designed to protect student privacy following passage by the Senate.


The legislation was passed as an amendment to S. 1, the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act. The education bill passed by the House does not include the privacy provision, however. A committee of lawmakers from both houses will iron out the differences between the two versions.


The Student Privacy Protection Act, sponsored by Sens. Richard Shelby, R-AL, and Christopher Dodd, D-CT, requires schools to:


•Develop a policy regarding in-school commercial activities.


• Obtain parental notification and consent to gather information from children younger than 18 in the classroom. Schools also must inform parents about the individual to whom the data would be disclosed, how that information would be used and the amount of class time consumed.


•Make sure parents are informed of the school's policy as well as any changes or exceptions that alter the policy.


The legislation also would allow local school boards, in consultation with parents, to provide additional exceptions to the consent requirements as long as the information they seek to collect is not personally identifiable and the school notifies the parents of its policy on these data collection activities.


"Parents send their children to school to learn, not to be used as captive focus groups for marketers," Shelby said in a statement. "These marketers should not be able to gain access to children in the classroom without first obtaining parents' permission."


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