Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Emmer sent a letter urging Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to clarify the Department of Education’s plan to safeguard student data privacy.
Emmer said “When our current student data privacy laws were written, concepts like online remote learning were unheard of. This has left children and their family’s data vulnerable, often without their knowledge.
Emmer continued, “We owe it to our nation’s students to modernize our approach to safeguarding their digital identities.”
Specifically, the letter asks the Department of Education to address their awareness of student metadata being shared with vendors, if parents and eligible students are able to opt-out of information sharing, and the department’s approach to modernizing student data privacy protections.
Enacted in 1974, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was designed to protect the privacy of student education records and prohibits educational institutions from sharing “personally identifiable information in education records” without prior written consent of a parent or student over 18 years of age.
Written before the rise of the internet, FERPA is ill-equipped to address 21st century privacy concerns like third-party data collection. However, as remote learning persists in school districts across the country, student data is increasingly available to vendors. In July of 2021, fourteen parents from nine states filed complaints with the Department of Education about the amount and scope of student data collected from third parties.
You can read more about FERPA here.