White House Announces Steps to Protect Student Data

by Michelle Massie
January 12, 2015

Building on a series of efforts to safeguard the privacy of American consumers and families, President Barack Obama announced several new actions to protect student data today.

Speaking from the Federal Trade Commission offices, President Obama laid out plans for:

  • The Student Digital Privacy Act: A new legislative proposal would prevent companies from selling student data to companies for purposes unrelated to education and from advertising to students based on data collected in school. Details of the proposal are not yet available, but the White House pledged that language would still allow data to be used in research to improve student outcomes.
  • New Commitments from the private sector:Seventy-five companies signed a pledge to provide parents, teachers and students with protections against misuse of their data.
  • New tools from the U.S. Department of Education: The Department will provide assistance to education leaders through its Privacy Technical Assistance Center that will enhance appropriate uses of education data.

The President intends to address these measures along with other plans for consumer protection in his State of the Union speech next week.

WDQC applauds the review of policies and practices that safeguard student data, but we caution against creating laws that go too far in limiting data sharing. Systems that link education and workforce data over time — while still protecting confidential information on individuals — can give students and workers information about results from different schools and programs, helping them make better choices for the future.

For more information, view this blog from Data Quality Campaign, a WDQC partner that advocates for the safe, effective use of education data to improve student outcomes.