Another Bill to Overhaul FERPA

U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) reintroduced legislation on Wednesday that aims to better protect the educational records of students in the digital world.

Similar to a draft measure floated by House Education and the Workforce Committee leaders Reps. John Kline (R-MN) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), the Protecting Student Privacy Act would change data privacy by updating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The proposed bill, originally introduced last July, would require that data security safeguards be put in place to protect sensitive student data that is held by private companies. It would minimize the amount of personally identifiable information that is transferred from schools to tech companies and prohibit those companies from using student data to target ads.

The measure would also expand parental rights to access and amend their children’s personal information. School districts would be required to maintain a list of outside vendors that hold information on students and make that list accessible to parents.

"Data analysis holds promise for increasing student achievement, but it also holds peril from a privacy perspective," Senator Markey said in a written statement. "There are threats to students when their personal information is in the hands of private companies, and we need to make sure parents have the tools to protect their children. A child's educational record should not be sold as a product on the open market."

The proposed legislation is one of a growing list of bills targeting student privacy, according to Politico. Reps. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO) recently reintroduced their delayed Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, which would protect K-12 student data. Additionally, two more bills are forthcoming: the aforementioned measure from House education committee leaders Kline and Scott and another from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).


Related Links

U.S. Senator Edward Markey's Press Release