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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: September 4, 2015 12:06 PM
From: Representative Dan L. Miller and Rep. Tedd C. Nesbit
To: All House members
Subject: Student Data Privacy and Protection bill package
In the near future, we are planning to introduce two (2) separate bills designed to protect Pennsylvania’s elementary and secondary school students from abuses that could occur when their personal student data flows into the new world of education technology applications and websites. This legislation will be based primarily on two bills enacted by the California legislature last year (Assembly Bill No. 1584 and Senate Bill No. 1177), along with reference to the “Student Digital Privacy Rights Act of 2015,” which is currently before the U.S. Congress.

As students across the Commonwealth are returning to school from their summer break, this is a good time to focus on the security of their personal information as students. With recent advances in technology, more and more teachers are seeking ways to innovate and connect with today’s students through online-based tools designed by a third-party. Some of these tools are collecting huge amounts of student data with varying policies on what is being collected and how that information is handled. While some third-party vendors’ policies are clearly detailed and easily accessible, many are not, and their policies vary greatly. Moreover, current state and federal laws provide little protection for student data in such instances. Indeed, these findings were recently reflected in news articles on student data privacy by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which asked 31 Pennsylvania school systems to “provide all agreements with vendors that receive student data, and all policies related to the use of websites, applications and other education technology tools.” Oftentimes students are being asked by teachers to utilize various applications, however, insufficient protections are in place to address the gathering, usage, storage, compilation, possible sale, disclosure, deletion, and other aspects of their personal data when they access these “apps” provided by “ed-tech” companies.

In this digital age, with all of the wondrous advances in technology that our students enjoy, parents need assurance that the data being collected on their children is being properly handled with sufficient privacy and security measures in place to prevent abuses from taking place. Our two-bill package will include:

Bill #1 - Protect Student Online Personal Information
Bill #2 – Authorize Third-Party Contracts for Digital Storage Services/Educational Software

Document #1

Introduced as HB1635

Bill #1 - Protect Student Online Personal Information
  • Prohibit an operator of an Internet Website, online service or application, or mobile application from knowingly engaging in targeted advertising to students or their parents, using gathered information to amass a profile about a K-12 student, selling a student’s information, or disclosing such information for non-educational purposes.
  • Require an operator to implement reasonable security procedures for the gathered information, to protect the information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure, and to delete a student’s information if the school or district requests deletion of data under their control. The bill would authorize disclosure of such information under specified circumstances.
  • School districts would have to create an internal policy for how applications are approved.If a school chooses to use a specific “app” that they are not able to ensure is in compliance with state requirements, or which has been determined to not be in compliance, schools would be responsible to notify parents of the security issue, allow them to opt-in or opt-out, and if necessary to provide supplemental learning methods should parents decline to have their children use the out-of-compliance application.
Please join us in supporting essential protections for Pennsylvania students and their personal information.


Document #2

Introduced as HB1636

Description: Bill #2 – Authorize Third-Party Contracts for Digital Storage Services/Educational Software
  • Authorize a local educational agency (LEA) to enter into a contract with a third-party to provide services for the digital storage, management, and retrieval of pupil records or to provide digital educational software, or both.Provide guidelines for LEAs to follow when using non-contracted, third-party online services or applications.
  • Require the contract to include specified provisions, including a statement that the pupil records continue to be the property of and under the control of the LEA, a description of the actions the third-party will take to ensure the security and confidentiality of pupil records, and a description of how the LEA and the third-party will jointly ensure compliance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Please join us in supporting essential protections for Pennsylvania students and their personal information.