Fordham Law

CLIP Director Joel Reidenberg Testifies in Congressional Hearing on Student Data Privacy

June 26, 2014

Fordham Law Professor Joel Reidenberg, Director of the Center on Law and Information Policy (CLIP), testified before Congress on June 25 during the hearing on “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy.” The testimony was heard by subcommittee members of the Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Education and the Workforce in a rare joint meeting. Reidenberg’s testimony focused on the findings from CLIP’s December 2013 report, “Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools.” This study analyzed how student information is processed by online vendors and highlighted current legal risks surrounding student privacy.

The Fordham CLIP study gave national prominence to student privacy issues, and the congressional hearing was convened according to Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) “to examine the sharing of student information with educational software and cloud service vendors and the laws and guidelines that govern them.”

Citing data from the CLIP report, Reidenberg informed members of Congress that 20% of schools lack proper policies for the usage of these services. The report revealed that depending on the type of online service only 20 to 50% of school agreements restrict vendor disclosures of student information and fewer than 7% of schools explicitly restrict the sale or redistribution of student information. He also testified that federal educational privacy laws have failed to keep up with the ways schools collect and use student information.

Reidenberg discussed other findings, such as the substantial transfer of student information to various third parties and the need to keep parents as informed as possible regarding these security risks.

Chairman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) echoed Reidenberg’s demand for greater transparency.

“Security of student information must be paramount,” Meehan said. “Parents enrolling their children in school should have a clear understanding of what information is collected, stored, and shared.” Meehan also entered the Fordham study into the Congressional record for the hearing.

Reidenberg holds the Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair at Fordham Law. He will soon complete his term as the inaugural Microsoft Visiting Professor of Information Technology Policy at Princeton University.