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Oregon Legislation Will Protect Students' Privacy

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum introduces legislation modeled on Common Sense Media's landmark efforts to provide common sense privacy protection for our children

In the wake of California's enactment of a watershed student privacy law, states from coast to coast are riding the wave and introducing legislation modeled on the California statute.

In Oregon, Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum has introduced a new bill that would add to the national momentum of the student-privacy movement.

SB 187, the Oregon Student Information Protection Act, will provide much-needed protection to Oregon schoolchildren, ensuring the privacy and security of their personal and academic data in 21st-century classrooms while enabling innovation and research.

Oregon 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 exciting new technology has the ability to transform the academic experience -- enhancing and personalizing student learning and improving school efficiency.

As we embrace these new innovations, we must also 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.

Some online services have collected and analyzed students' personal details without clear limits on use of the student data for educational purposes. Others have failed to adequately secure and encrypt students' personal information from potential misuse.

We need clear rules of the road to ensure that children's information isn't exploited for commercial purposes and that it stays out of the wrong hands.

The bill would provide strong protections to secure students' sensitive data. It would prohibit K-12 websites, online services, and mobile applications from using students' personal information for targeted advertising or commercial profiling, from or selling it, and from disclosing student information (except as provided).

While creating these much-needed safeguards, SB 187 is also carefully drafted to help foster innovation and research. Data can still be used to improve educational products and services without being linked to specific students. Providers will be able to improve educational products and provide customized/digital learning for students while keeping their personal information private.

Embracing new technology shouldn't mean having to compromise student privacy. SB 187 will ensure that companies and developers can continue to innovate to improve our classrooms and schools while providing some common-sense privacy protections for our children.

Jim Steyer
Jim is Common Sense Media's CEO and founder -- read all about him here.