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List Company Agrees to Student Data Guidelines From FTC

American Student List entered into an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to restrict the use of data collected through high school surveys, the agency said yesterday.

The agreement bars the distribution of data that was collected prior to the agreement to marketers who would use it for non-educational purposes, the FTC said. ASL has collected student data since 1971. Data collected by ASL in the future cannot by used for non-educational marketing practices unless ASL discloses at the time of collection exactly how the data will be used, the FTC said.

According to the FTC, the National Research Center for College and University Admissions, which sold the data to ASL for 30 years, in the past had informed students in privacy statements included with the surveys that any information collected would be shared only with colleges, universities and other educational entities. In fact, the data also went to commercial marketers, the FTC said.

The agency also said that the survey received funding not only from educational institutions but ASL and “other commercial entities.” The National Research Center for College and University Admissions, Lee's Summit, MO, and its president, Don Munce, also were named in the agreement.

In September, Mineola, NY-based ASL said it had changed its privacy safeguards to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act, which took effect at the beginning of this year. The act lets parents opt their children out of student surveys that collect personal data for use in non-educational marketing and requires schools to notify parents of their privacy rights.

According to ASL, it ceased sharing data with non-educational marketers as soon as the act went into effect. The FTC agreement affects data collected prior to the act, according to the FTC.

ASL has been in business for 30 years, and over time has grown accustomed to adapting to changes in privacy law, Don Damore, CEO of ASL, said in a statement. The company has always had privacy safeguards, and it responded to the No Child Left Behind Act as it always has, by updating its policies.

Damore, who noted that the agreement did not include an admission of guilt by ASL, added that the company would continue to meet its clients' needs and pledged to follow all privacy guidelines and practices.

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