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Markey Wants Answers From DOE on Data Outsourcing

On concerns about data collection from students, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has sent a letter to the Department of Education seeking information on its outsourcing of academic record storage to third parties.

In the letter, Markey cited a New York Times story about the practice and asks what guidelines schools have about parents' rights to control information about their children and increased sharing of data with the private sector, including without parental notification.

Markey, who co-chaired the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus while a member of the House, is a big proponent of parental consent for the sharing of children's info online and is focusing increased attention in his Senate post on privacy issues.

"While the increased use of data analysis of student performance holds promise for increasing student achievement, at the same time there are perils from a privacy perspective," Markey said in a statement. "Putting the sensitive information of students in private hands raises a number of important questions about the privacy rights of students and their parents, who the right to control information about their children."

Markey has a bunch of questions he wants the DOE to answer by Nov. 12, including whether it monitors third party use, whether DOE recognizes any possible risks of sharing students' personal information-like behavior or school participation patterns — with third parties, and whether there are "minimization" requirements — requiring those third parties to delete any info not necessary for enhancing educational quality.