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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 8, 2020 10:58 AM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: The Student Data Privacy and Protection Act
In the near future I will be reintroducing Senate Bill 797 of last session that aims to protect the privacy of our students’ personal data from unauthorized or inappropriate disclosure. At a time when everyone is conducting their lives online, our students can be particularly vulnerable. A few examples of harm resulting from unauthorized or inappropriate use include: students’ personal information posted on-line; health care providers inappropriately accessing student information for the purpose of marketing services to parents; and a school district in Pennsylvania installing laptop tracking software which was used to surreptitiously capture images of students in their homes.

Now that many of our students are learning and attending school online and with new educational technologies and Federal reporting mandates, the amount of student-related data being generated, collected, and stored within our schools has dramatically increased. Computer-related technology to facilitate personalized learning, target instruction based on identified needs, and evaluate instructional methods have proven to be very useful. Yet at the same time these advances have increased the risks to students and their parents of inappropriate access to, and disclosure of, a student’s personal information.

While Congress has made a start in addressing student data privacy concerns through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and subsequent legislation, both state and federal statutory protections have not kept pace with student data privacy concerns generated by introduction of new computer adaptive technologies. Federal student privacy laws do not apply to a significant amount of student data that our schools amass, and may not apply to student information that private companies collect and maintain in support of our schools.

This bill addresses these concerns and provides a solid foundation for protecting the privacy of student data in the Commonwealth. The bill defines student data, who owns the data, who can correct records, the responsibilities of state and local education entities in protecting student data privacy, and the designation and responsibilities of a chief data privacy officer within the Department of Education. Moreover, the bill provides policies and protections for the collection, use and safeguarding of student data; specific prohibitions on collection, reporting, and use of certain data; disclosure guidance; procedures to follow in case of a security breach; third party responsibilities; and enforcement and penalty provisions.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to protect our student’s data and their privacy.
Previous co-sponsors of this legislation include Senators Mensch, J. Ward, and A. Williams.

Introduced as SB37