NAICU Washington Update

Chief Privacy Officer Position Created at Dept. of Ed.

July 08, 2010

The Department of Education has announced the creation of the position of Chief Privacy Officer.  The Chief Privacy Officer will head up the Family Policy Compliance Office, which is responsible for the administration of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  This individual will also be responsible for advising and coordinating other departmental activities related to privacy and data security issues.

The position description notes the desire of the Department to make more data available to the public, and acknowledges that the growth in data collection has created increasing concern about student privacy.  Data collection has been the centerpiece of a number of departmental initiatives, including the Race to the Top.  In addition, the Department has invested over $500 million since 2005 for the development of statewide longitudinal data systems.

Student privacy concerns have been underscored most notably by a Fordham University study directed by Joel Reidenberg.  This study documents the lack of basic privacy protections in elementary and secondary school state reporting.  Among the report's recommendations is that a Chief Privacy Officer be appointed to each state education department.

The federal privacy officer position has not yet been fully developed, and the Department estimates it will be filled just over a year from now.