A bill prohibiting the sale of students’ online educational data sailed through the House Wednesday, surviving a last-ditch attempt to insert amendments privacy lobbyists and the Oregon Attorney General’s office called dangerous and weakening.
Senate Bill 187, also known as the Oregon Student Information Protection Act, passed 53-4.
The bill awaits the signature of Gov. Kate Brown to become law.
Legislators agree that K-12 students are being educated in radically different ways than their parents’ generation.
In classrooms all across Oregon, students are solving math problems customized for their skill level, reading, writing and researching online — even having their grades, absences and disciplinary records tracked by administrative software.
And if they aren’t yet, they will be soon.
All these activities produce trackable data. SB 187, if signed, will outlaw the selling of that information to third parties. The bill was spearheaded by Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum.
“We are not trying to put ed-tech companies out of business,” she said. “But that service should not include selling kids’ data to third parties and marketers.”
One issue that no one broached was whether lawmakers’ move to ban selling of student data is preemptive—or reacting to actions already occurring.
“A lot of this (selling) is done discretely, maybe secretly. We don’t know exactly what’s being done to the data,” Rosenblum, the attorney general, said.
“I hope I don’t sound like I’m paranoid. I’m really not,” she continued. “But it’s a marketing opportunity that anyone who wants to make a bunch of money is going to take advantage of.”