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Markey, Hatch Reintroduce Student Digital Privacy Bill

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have reintroduced a bill to protect students' information privacy online.

The Protecting Student Privacy Act would require educational software and digital content companies to protect students' sensitive personal data, prevent using students' personally identifiable information (PII) for targeted marketing, give parents the right to access PII and amend it, require disclosing which outside parties have access to the info, minimize the PII obtained and require the PII to be deleted when it has served its educational purpose.

The senators pointed out in reintroducing the bill that educational software and digital content is an $8 billion annual business, and said 95% percent of school districts send student records to outside companies to manage school services, while only 7% of those districts "directly prevent the companies from selling students’ data that includes everything from grades to test scores, attendance records and family relationships."

The bill would update the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.