Delaware's Opportunity to Protect the Personal Information of Students

Delaware's Opportunity to Protect the Personal Information of Students

If you ask your kids or grandkids, you'll probably find there's a website or program their teachers or schools have asked them to use. These apps are for testing, for extra help, for educational games, or for keeping in touch with the teacher or school.

Delaware 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. Through online platforms, mobile applications, digital courseware, and cloud computing, schools are working to enhance and personalize student learning and improve school efficiency. In the process, private education technology companies are collecting 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 bus routes.

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

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

Fortunately, Delaware's Attorney General Matt Denn has worked with bipartisan leaders in the General Assembly to introduce a thoughtful suite of legislation that would help ensure the online privacy of all Delawareans, including critical measures to safeguard the privacy of children and students.

Senate Bill No. 79 will provide strong protection for Delaware schoolchildren, ensuring the privacy and security of their personal information in 21st-century classrooms while enabling innovation and research.

SB 79 would prohibit K–12 websites, online services, and mobile apps from using students' personal information to target advertising to kids or parents or to create commercial profiles; it would ban the sale of student information and restrict disclosure to third parties. The bill also would require education technology companies to adopt appropriate data-security measures.

We are encouraged that Delaware sits poised to pass some of the toughest privacy protections in the nation. Many of the provisions parallel strong privacy laws already on the books in California. National companies already must comply with these requirements on the West Coast. Delaware's citizens deserve the same protections.

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