California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Monday a sweeping measure aimed at restricting the use of students’ educational data by third-party vendors, marking one of the most aggressive legislative attempts to date to balance the promise of digital learning technologies with concerns about the privacy and security of children’s sensitive information.
The Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, or SOPIPA, prohibits operators of online educational services from selling student data and using such information to target advertising to students or to “amass a profile” on students for a non-educational purpose. The law also requires online service providers to maintain adequate security procedures and to delete student information at the request of a school or district.
James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helped craft the law, described SOPIPA in an interview with Education Week as the nation’s “first truly comprehensive student-data-privacy legislation” and said he expects it to become a model for other states around the country.
“It’s a major step forward in creating a trusted online learning environment,” Steyer said. “I think this is a blunt call to industry to say that school data is for educational purposes. Period.”
Protecting student data has become an increasingly contentious issue in recent months, with parents and activists expressing growing concern about the nature and volume of digital data on children that schools now share with third-party vendors. <Read more.>