The Hatch-Markey Amendment Does Nothing to Protect Privacy

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

U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-UT) co-sponsored an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act, S.1177, which passed 89 to 0 that addresses student privacy.

Unfortunately all the amendment does is mandate the creation of a committee to study student privacy concerns into a bill that is already chock full of problems.

We need action, not a study committee, in order to protect student privacy.  Those who authored the amendment are also operating from the premise that student data collection is good from an academic standpoint. They seemed to be very concerned about private use of student data, but not as concerned about public sector use of such data.

Here is the text of the amendment:

 Amendment No. 2080

     (Purpose: To establish a committee on student privacy policy)

       At the end of title I, add the following:

     SEC. 1018. STUDENT PRIVACY POLICY COMMITTEE.

       (a) Establishment of a Committee on Student Privacy 
     Policy.--Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment 
     of this Act, there is established a committee to be known as 
     the ``Student Privacy Policy Committee'' (referred to in this 
     section as the ``Committee'').
       (b) Membership.--
       (1) Composition.--The Committee shall be composed of--
       (A) 3 individuals appointed by the Secretary of Education;
       (B) not less than 8 and not more than 13 individuals 
     appointed by the Comptroller General of the United States, 
     representing--
       (i) experts in education data and student privacy;
       (ii) educators and parents;
       (iii) State and local government officials responsible for 
     managing student information;
       (iv) education technology leaders in the State or a local 
     educational agency;
       (v) experts with practical experience dealing with data 
     privacy management at the State or local level;
       (vi) experts with a background in academia or research in 
     data privacy and education data; and
       (vii) education technology providers and education data 
     storage providers; and
       (C) 4 members appointed by--
       (i) the majority leader of the Senate;
       (ii) the minority leader of the Senate;
       (iii) the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and
       (iv) the minority leader of the House of Representatives.
       (D) Chairperson.--The Committee shall select a Chairperson 
     from among its members.
       (E) Vacancies.--Any vacancy in the Committee shall not 
     affect the powers of the Committee and shall be filled in the 
     same manner as an initial appointment described in 
     subparagraphs (A) through (C).
       (c) Meetings.--The Committee shall hold, at the call of the 
     Chairperson, not less than 5 meetings before completing the 
     study required under subsection (e) and the report required 
     under subsection (f).
       (d) Personnel Matters.--
       (1) Compensation of members.--Each member of the Committee 
     shall serve without compensation in addition to any such 
     compensation received for the member's service as an officer 
     or employee of the United States, if applicable.
       (2) Travel expenses.--The members of the Committee shall be 
     allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of 
     subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies 
     under subchapter 1 of chapter 57 of title 5, United States 
     Code, while away from their homes or regular places of 
     business in the performance of services for the Committee.
       (e) Duties of the Committee.--
       (1) Study.--The Committee shall conduct a study on the 
     effectiveness of Federal laws and enforcement mechanisms of--
       (A) student privacy; and
       (B) parental rights to student information.
       (2) Recommendations.--Based on the findings of the study 
     under paragraph (1), the Committee shall develop 
     recommendations addressing issues of student privacy and 
     parental rights and how to improve and enforce Federal laws 
     regarding student privacy and parental rights, including 
     recommendations that--
       (A) provide or update standard definitions, if needed, for 
     relevant terms related to student privacy, including--
       (i) education record;
       (ii) personally identifiable information;
       (iii) aggregated, de-identified, or anonymized data;
       (iv) third-party; and
       (v) educational purpose;
       (B) identify--
       (i) which Federal laws should be updated; and
       (ii) the appropriate Federal enforcement authority to 
     execute the laws identified in clause (i);
       (C) address the sharing of data in an increasingly 
     technological world, including--
       (i) evaluations of protections in place for student data 
     when it is used for research purposes;
       (ii) establishing best practices for any entity that is 
     charged with handling, or that comes into contact with, 
     student education records;
       (iii) ensuring that identifiable data cannot be used to 
     target students for advertising or marketing purposes; and
       (iv) establishing best practices for data deletion and 
     minimization;
       (D) discuss transparency and parental access to personal 
     student information by establishing best practices for--
       (i) ensuring parental knowledge of any entity that stores 
     or accesses their student's information;
       (ii) parents to amend, delete, or modify their student's 
     information; and
       (iii) a central designee in a State or a political 
     subdivision of a State who can oversee transparency and serve 
     as a point of contact for interested parties;
       (E) establish best practices for the local entities who 
     handle student privacy, which may include professional 
     development for those who come into contact with identifiable 
     data; and
       (F) discuss how to improve coordination between Federal and 
     State laws.
       (f) Report.--Not later than 270 days after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Committee shall prepare and submit 
     a report to the Secretary of Education and to Congress 
     containing the findings of the study under subsection (e)(1) 
     and the recommendations developed under subsection (e)(2).