Common Sense Media Applauds Delaware for Protecting Student Privacy

The following statement was released today by James P. Steyer after Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed legislation that will protect the privacy of the state’s students.

Common Sense Media
Thursday, August 6, 2015

The ‘Liberty and Independence' State showed once again that the notion of personal liberty transcends political boundaries, as Democrats and Republicans came together to protect the private information of Delaware students. We applaud Attorney General Denn, Rep. Jaques (D- Glasgow), Rep. Ramone (R – Middle Run Valley) and Sen. Sokola (D- Newark), the bill's primary sponsor in the General Assembly for making student data privacy a top priority.

Gov. Markell's signature on this bill will restrict the use of students' educational data by third-party vendors. The bill is part of a national effort to balance the promise of exciting education technology with concerns about the privacy and security of children's sensitive information.

The measure is modeled after similar legislation pushed by Common Sense Kids Action in other states that is aimed at getting meaningful protections in place for our public school children and their families. Delaware follows the lead of legislators in 12 states in 2015 that have introduced SOPIPA like legislation, including Oregon and New Hampshire.

As technology transforms every facet of our lives, educators are implementing exciting new tools that will help our children learn the critical skills they need and prepare them for the 21st-century economy. This new law simply states that new apps and software must be incorporated into our classrooms in ways that maintain and protect student privacy.

At its core, this law is based on the notion that students' personal information collected at school should be used solely for educational purposes. It will guarantee that students' personal information or online activity may not be used to target advertising to students or families.

In a majority of states, education vendors are allowed to collect sensitive information about students and their families without clear rules for using and protecting the information. SB 79 ensures there will be common-sense rules in place to prevent that from happening in Delaware.

This is not a radical idea. Good actors in the education technology industry already adhere to the common-sense standards in this bill. This measure will simply ensure that every company working with school districts lives up to the same basic standards.

Delaware's bold action will give much-needed momentum to the national fight to protect our children from bad actors who are looking to cash in at the expense of student privacy.