Daines, Blumenthal Introduce Bill to Protect Students’ Data

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced legislation to ensure proper safeguards are in place to protect students’ data.   

The Safeguarding American Families from Exposure by Keeping Information and Data Secure (SAFE KIDS) Act protects student privacy by establishing clear parameters for third-party operators when using data collected from students. The legislation empowers parents to control access to their children’s information.

The current federal protections for student data, including the tools currently available to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), are woefully inadequate. The SAFE KIDS Act empowers the FTC to oversee and enforce collection, storage and usage of covered information.

“As the father of four children, I know firsthand the importance of ensuring that as technology continues to rapidly evolve our kids’ security and privacy are protected,” Daines stated.  Securing students’ digital information is critical to ensuring that our kids’ privacy is protected. By placing power back in hands of students, parents and schools we can make progress towards protecting the privacy of our children.”

“The perils of privacy invasion and data abuse must be stopped at the classroom door with laws that match advancing technology,” Blumenthal stated. “As classrooms increasingly rely on technology like apps and cloud services to bolster learning, the advances unfortunately pose an urgent, pressing concern – student data can be peddled for revenue. The SAFE KIDS Act will establish strong, vital protections for a child’s personal, private data – safeguarding students’ information and empowering parents to prevent abuse.” 

More information on the SAFE KIDS Act can be found here.

The full text of the bill is available here.

The SAFE KIDS Act has received wide support from education and technology leaders:

Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft: “Our company has long been committed to bringing the benefits of technology and personalized learning to schools, while protecting the privacy and security of students’ information. This legislation represents another major step forward in striking the right balance between protecting student privacy and fostering innovation in schools.”

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers:“Companies should not have more protections than students. This bill moves us in the right direction, providing students and parents with more privacy protections than they have now. We need legislation and safeguards, as evidenced by the exposure of Pearson’s spying on students’ social media accounts and using students’ personal information. This bill is a good first step to provide students with more data privacy.”

Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking: “Protecting student data is a responsibility that requires deep commitment from school leaders, educators, and community members. To that end, the nation’s district technology leaders are invested in creating a culture in all schools nationwide that students and their families trust. Senators Blumenthal and Daines provide a strong starting point for discussion to thoughtfully address student privacy and data use. We look forward to working with them and their Congressional colleagues in the weeks and months ahead.” 

Governor Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education: “The Alliance for Excellence in Education is pleased to endorse the SAFE KIDS Act. This bipartisan legislation being brought forth by U.S. Senators Blumenthal and Daines recognizes the important goal of protecting student data while balancing it with the equally important task of using student performance data to help improve instruction and help every student achieve.”

Paige Kowalski, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for the Data Quality Campaign: “The SAFE KIDS Act recognizes the valuable role of data and technology in education and proposes new protections that ensure data, including data collected through the use of online apps and websites, are used appropriately to benefit students.” 

Center for Democracy and Technology: “Technology has the power to enhance learning and educational outcomes, but we must ensure that innovation is balanced with the privacy of students. With existing federal law failing to keep pace with the rapid adoption of technology in the classroom and unclear protections for students’ data, the SAFE KIDS Act is a welcome development. The bill would provide clear guidelines for the use, sharing, and protection of student data, which will help to establish the trust necessary for further advancement and adoption of technology in the education sector.”

Jim Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense and Common Sense Kids Action: “This bi-partisan Senate bill sends a strong signal about the importance of protecting students’ data privacy in an increasingly digital world. We applaud Sens. Daines and Blumenthal for introducing their bill and look forward to working with them to enact the strongest possible protections for kids. The best way to ensure all children can benefit from the use of educational technology is to guarantee them and their parents that their privacy is protected and their data is secure.”

National Education Association (NEA): “From our perspective, the SAFE KIDS Act would provide appropriate and much needed student data protections without discouraging school service operators (including state or locally operated virtual schools) from creating digital educational products that improve teaching and learning. We support the bill’s central goal of curbing the inappropriate use of student data by school service operators and its specific prohibitions on their selling student data or using it for targeted advertising or building student profiles.”

The NEA’s full letter in support is available here.

The SAFE KIDS Act is also endorsed by:

  • AASA, The School Superintendents
  • American Federation of School Administrators
  • Association of Educational Service Agencies
  • Association of School Business Officials
  • International Society for Technology in Education
  • Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Education Association
  • National Parent Teacher Association
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition
  • National Rural Education Association
  • School Administrators of Montana
  • State Educational Technology Directors Association