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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Signs Student Privacy Legislation into Law, but More Remains to Be Done in 2016

Oregon takes its first steps to ensure student privacy.

As we embrace new education technology in our schools and classrooms, we must ensure that students' personal information is protected, secure, and used only for educational purposes.

To their credit, Oregon lawmakers, the state attorney general, and the governor have worked hard to address student privacy, an issue that is clearly of great importance to parents and schools across the country in our increasingly digital world. But we have more work to do to protect student privacy in Oregon, and we look forward to the opportunity to work with Oregon lawmakers in 2016 to strengthen OSIPA.

Common Sense Kids Action and other advocates were able to stave off some special-interest amendments that would have harmed student privacy, including one that would have allowed for consent from students as young as 12 to dictate how their personal information, collected in the classroom, could be shared by third-party vendors.

Typically schools and teachers choose the websites, apps, and other online services students and parents must use. Parents have no real choice but to "consent" when they click through the terms of service or check the box "agreeing" to the privacy policy. Parents may assume that the school already has fully vetted the service and its privacy and security practices, or they may feel forced to consent to anything so their children can participate and won't be left out. Meanwhile, schools may not always have the resources or savvy to carefully review the products, or they may agree to certain practices to obtain free, discounted, or highly desired products.

Recommendation engines bring up similar concerns about the commercial, noneducational uses of student data. Industry leaders seek the ability to "recommend additional content or services to students related to educational, learning, or job opportunities" based on sensitive student information.

Oregon students, families, and educators deserve a trusted online environment so they can use innovative and new digital-learning tools with confidence and without fear that their personal information will be exploited or fall into the wrong hands.

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.