Common Sense Kids Action Announces Support of New Student Privacy Legislation in Florida

Sen Bill Montford Introduces Legislation Modeled After Common Sense’s Landmark Student Privacy Bill Which Prevents Businesses From Exploiting Sensitive Student Information

Common Sense Media
Friday, December 18, 2015

San Francisco, CA -- Common Sense Kids Action announced its support today for SB 1146, the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, new legislation introduced by Sen. Bill Montford that would provide much needed protection of student data. The bill is modeled after Common Sense's landmark student privacy legislation, which ensures the privacy and security of schoolchildren's personal and academic data in connected classrooms by preventing businesses from exploiting the information for non-learning purposes. In 2015, Republican and Democratic policymakers from twelve states, in addition to Florida, introduced SOPIPA modeled legislation and three others – Delaware, Oregon and New Hampshire, passed legislation.

We applaud Sen Bill Montford for making student data privacy a top priority in Florida," said James P. Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Kids Action. "Students shouldn't have to surrender their right to privacy and security at the schoolhouse door. 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, which is what SOPIPA would do"

Florida schools are increasingly integrating computers, laptops, and tablets in the classroom, and relying on cloud computing services for a variety of academic and administrative function. 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 – even cafeteria selections and whether or not students ride the bus to school. This personal student information is at risk.

Common Sense Media has proposed three basic principles that attempt to balance the tremendous opportunity provided by education technology with the need to foster a trusted learning environment, where students' personal information is protected:

  1. Students' personal information should be used solely for educational purposes;

  2. Students' personal information or online activity should not be used to target advertising to students or families; and

  3. Schools and education technology providers should adopt appropriate data security, retention, and destruction policies.

SOPIPA would help accomplish these goals for Florida schoolchildren. SOPIPA would restrict operators of K-12 websites, online services, and mobile applications from using students' personal information for targeted advertising or profiling. The bill would prohibit the sale or disclosure of student personal information to third parties. In addition, SOPIPA would require these online operators to keep student information secure.

SB 1146 is intended to prevent businesses from exploiting sensitive information like students' schoolwork, online searches, family financial situations, medical information, or even their lunch preferences, and to protect such information from falling into the wrong hands.

Notably, SOPIPA is also carefully drafted to help foster innovation and research, so industry may improve educational products and provide customized and digital learning for students. SOPIPA has been widely acclaimed as one of the most comprehensive student privacy laws for the 21st century, both protecting students and permitting innovation.

There is overwhelming public support for the implementation of such policies and regulations to protect students' private information. A national poll conducted in 2014 found that 90 percent of adults – whether parents or not – are concerned about how non-educational 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. This overwhelming support has lead to legislators throughout the country taking action in 2015, with SOPIPA legislation introduced in ten states.

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families and educators thrive in a world of media and technology. We rate, educate, and advocate on behalf of kids, families and schools. Common Sense offers the world's largest and most trusted library of age-based ratings and reviews of all types of content targeted at kids, and our research-based curriculum and tools are used in over 100,000 U.S. schools. For more information, go to:

Lisa Cohen
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