NAICU Washington Update

Feingold Adds Privacy/Security Amendment to Senate Student Tracking Bill

May 09, 2007

Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), with the assistance of NAICU, successfully added an amendment to S. 761, the Senate math and science competitiveness bill, to give Americans greater privacy safeguards in statewide P-16 education data systems. The amendment would require states that apply for federal funds to establish or improve statewide student tracking databases to implement a series of privacy protections.

Restrictions added by the Feingold amendment include limitations on the use of data, restrictions on third party use of data, requirements for data security, and the protection of unique identifiers. Although the amendment still allows for individual tracking of students and the collection of academic records, it served to raise red flags regarding some of the potential abuses of privacy that could occur as a result of these new state student tracking systems.

While NAICU still opposes the establishment of educational tracking systems as a fundamental violation of an individual's right to privacy, any safeguards that can be added to the emerging systems could be helpful in protecting against future security breeches.

The bill will now go to conference with several individual math and science bills approved by the House of Representatives. The House bills do not provide funding for states to establish student tracking systems.

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