For Immediate Release: September 21, 2016
Parent Coalition for Student Privacy relieved Daines/Blumenthal SAFE KIDS Act pulled
Coalition members feared the bill would open up the floodgates of commercialism
The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, composed of parents, advocates and educators throughout the nation, and whose members led the fight against inBloom, are relieved that the SAFE KIDS Act, co-sponsored by Senators Daine and Blumenthal, scheduled to be marked up in the Commerce Committee today was pulled at the last minute.
Rachael Stickland, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy said, “While we appreciate the sincere motivation of these Senators to put controls on how personal student information is used by companies and organizations, we believe that this bill would have inadvertently further eroded student privacy. Right now, both the Student Privacy Pledge and FERPA, as well as other federal laws, actually ban the use of student data for non-educational purposes including behavioral advertising, while this bill would seem to have allowed for that possibility. There is also much confusion and ambiguity in the bill’s language about how parents would be informed about how their children’s data was being used by companies, how to request its deletion, when this would occur, as well as what specific security protections would be required to protect against breaches.”
Josh Golin, Executive Director of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, said: “The bill, though well-intentioned, had far too many loopholes to give children the protection from commercial exploitation that they deserve. It allowed unlimited targeted ads to students through the use of apps assigned by schools, as long as these ads were based on personal information gained through an individual online session. It also exempted some of the most frequently assigned websites and apps such as YouTube. This is unacceptable, as advertising is harmful to children and detracts from any educational benefits the program might otherwise provide.”
Leonie Haimson, the Executive Director of Class Size Matters and the co-chair of the Parent Coalition concluded, “We would like to work with Senators Daine and Blumenthal and the other members of the Commerce Committee on improving this bill to ensure that student privacy is strengthened rather than further eroded, given the push from some sectors of the ed tech industry to exploit our children’s personal information and to treat them as consumers rather than as students. Parents are increasingly concerned about the accelerated adoption of so-called educational apps in schools; we strongly believe their use must be approached with caution and regulated with a firm hand, to ensure that they do not violate children’s privacy and safety, or undermine the learning experience. We feared that this bill would further open up the floodgates of commercialism.”
Note: POLITICO Morning Tech reported on our press release, found here.