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Maryland Senate Considers Student Data Privacy Legislation

We support HB 430 because students deserve to have their data protected from unwanted eyes.

Members of the Maryland Senate will soon vote on an important law that will govern what level of protection will be provided for data collected in classrooms.

In Maryland, and in states across the country, schools are increasingly integrating computers, laptops, and tablets in the classroom and relying on cloud-computing services for a variety of academic and administrative functions. This technology, used wisely, has the vast potential to enhance and personalize student learning and to improve school efficiency. To realize this potential, we must ensure that students' personal information is protected. Through online platforms, mobile applications, digital courseware, and cloud computing, education technology providers collect massive amounts of sensitive data about students -- including contact information, performance records, online activity, health information, behavior and disciplinary records, eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch, and even cafeteria selections and whether or not students ride the bus to school. This personal student information is at risk.

The public overwhelmingly supports implementation of such policies and regulations to protect students' private information. A national poll conducted in 2014 found that 90 percent of adults -- whether they're parents or not -- are concerned about how noneducational interests are able to access and use students' personal information. Eighty-six percent agree that protecting children's safety and personal information should be the No. 1 priority, while only 11 percent believe that regulations would be overly burdensome and stifle innovation.

House Bill 430 would establish a Student Data Privacy Council comprising policymakers, administrators, educators, and advocates. Members of the council will provide recommendations regarding statutory and regulatory impacts of legislation based on their evaluation of the protection of covered information from unauthorized parties and the implementation and maintenance of reasonable security procedures and practices.

Common Sense Kids Action is pleased to support House Bill 430. It is important that we prevent the misuse of sensitive student information.

JR Starrett
JR oversees Let's Invest Large in Youth (LILY), a multi state program for Common Sense Kids Action. In this capacity JR works with a team of internal and external stakeholders to identify and introduce state based legislation that will positively impact kids. Prior to joining Common Sense, JR served as a seasoned political operative managing campaign efforts for some of the nation’s most competitive races. JR was recognized as a Rising Star by Campaigns and Elections magazine in 2014. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife Morgan. JR is a frequent contributor to Campaigns and Elections Magazine, contributing to the Campaign Insider column.