Colorado Legislature on the Verge of Passing Student Data Privacy Law

Photo credit: Hustvedt (CC-By-SA 3.0)
Photo credit: Hustvedt (CC-By-SA 3.0)

The Colorado Legislature has considered a student privacy bill this session that would inform parents about what data is collected by schools and provide greater transparency to the process. The bill, HB 16-1423, is sponsored by State Representatives Paul Lundeen (R-El Paso) and Alec Garnett (D-Denver) in the Colorado House of Representatives, and by State Senator Owen Hill (R-El Paso) in the Colorado Senate.

The Colorado House passed the bill last month, the Colorado Senate on Tuesday passed an amended version of the bill. It will go back to the Colorado House and then to the Governor’s desk if the House approves the Senate amended version.

Cheri Kiesecker, a Colorado activist who works extensively on the student privacy issue, shared by email what this bill accomplishes:

  • Bans selling personal student information and advertising targeted to individual students.
  • expands the protection of and definition of what is pii (personally identifiable information)
  • makes contractors and those maintaining student data irreversibly destroy the data when they are finished with it
  • Posts the bad actors–if a vendor is found to be substantially misusing student data or in breach of a contract, the education provider will publicly post the name of said vendor and will investigate terminating contract, further use of vendor
  • Contractor responsibility for subcontractors’ actions.
  • Adoption of privacy policies by school boards.
  • Posting of information about contracts on district websites. The bill was amended to require the state and districts to post the contract texts online.
  • Districts also must post and explain the type and data points (elements) of personally identifiable information collected.
  • Specific requirements for data security and for removal after contracts end. An amendment added Monday says such data can’t be retrievable.
  • Guaranteed parent access to information about the data collected on their children and the right to have it corrected.

Kiesecker said the bill does not limit what data is collected, but it provides a step for parents to learn what data is being collected from their student.