Privacy | News

California Assembly Approves Bill Restricting Companies' Use of Student Data

Darrell SteinbergYesterday, California’s Assembly approved a first-in-the-nation online privacy measure, authored by Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D – Sacramento), which prohibits uses of student personal information for profit. Senate Bill 1177, the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA), passed by a unanimous vote of 71-0 and now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.
SOPIPA would end targeted advertising on K-12 websites, services and applications. It also prohibits operators from using any information gained from the use of their K-12 site to target advertising on any other site, service or application. The bill prohibits companies from creating profiles of students unless those profiles are used for clear educational purposes. It also prevents companies from selling student data and limits disclosure of students’ personal information. 

According to a release from Steinberg’s office, the only current restrictions on the use of student data by online educational technology products are contained in the companies’ own privacy policies, which may contain provisions that remove a company’s liability for misuse of data, tell users that policies are subject to change at any time and say that companies are allowed to disclose data however they want.

Steinberg asserted that his bill is supported by parents, administrators, school employees, scholastic publishers and teachers. He said, “My goal is to encourage technological innovation while protecting kids’ privacy, and this bill doesn’t trade one goal for another — it achieves both.”  He concluded, “The industry currently operates without restriction except for the ones that they unilaterally deem appropriate, and that is unacceptable. Kids are in the classroom to learn.”  

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.