Fordham Law

Privacy-intrusive K-12 data collection may be extended to college students

Professor Joel Reidenberg in U.S. PIRG Consumer Blog, October 28, 2009

Media Source

Privacy experts Joel Reidenberg and Jamela Debelak at Fordham Law School's Center on Law and Information Policy have released (their release, their report) an important new study. From Nick Anderson's Washington Post lede in his story States mismanage student information, study concludes:

    States often collect far more information about students than necessary and fail to take adequate steps to protect their privacy, a national study concludes. The dossiers go far beyond test scores, including Social Security numbers, poverty data, health information and disciplinary incidents.

Reidenberg and Debelek note in their release the troubling finding that the K-12 database may be linked to a new student loan database proposed for college students.

    "Even so, House Bill 3221, or the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, contains a section that calls for the expansion and further integration of these databases without addressing these privacy concerns. A Senate version of the bill is expected to be released from committee shortly."

The release goes on to quote a leading student loan expert on his concerns:

    “The CLIP study meticulously documents the states’ disregard for safeguarding children’s most personal data,” said Barmak Nassirian, Associate Executive Director, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. “And yet Congress is poised to fund an ill-thought-through expansion of these systems to include data ranging from pre-birth medical information to education, employment, military, and criminal records.”

U.S. PIRG experts share the concerns expressed in the report and by Nassirian.

Posted by Ed Mierzwinski