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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ed Markey's Data Privacy Act

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, who has expressed deep concern about student privacy, today plans to introduce legislation aimed at protecting children and teens in what he calls the “new Internet ecosystem.”

The Do Not Track Kids legislation would update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by requiring websites to offer an “eraser button” whenever technologically feasible so that parents and kids can delete embarrassing or inappropriate posts. The bill also includes a “Digital Marketing Bill of Rights” that limits the information companies can collect about children from their online activity and social media posts. And it would prohibit targeted online marketing to children 15 and younger, unless the child or parent consents to receive the advertising.

The bill does not specifically apply to software or websites used in schools; the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, governs those interactions.

But Markey has expressed interest in closely monitoring FERPA as well.

Last month, he sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan requesting more information about changes the department made to FERPA, the primary student privacy law, in 2008 and 2011. The changes eased the way for schools to share more data with third parties, including private, for-profit companies. He also asked whether the department has evaluated the type of information that is routinely shared with third-party vendors. And he asked Duncan whether he believes parents should be allowed to opt out of databases and keep their children’s data private.

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