The ubiquity of online communications in the schools opens up new possibilities for entrepreneurs to collect and mine confidential, personally identifiable data about children. Under the terms of a bill to protect student privacy, corporations will not need parental consent to access this data.

As reported by politico.com:

“DATA PRIVACY BILL ON THE WAY: The long-awaited student data privacy bill is expected to drop on Monday. Reps. Luke Messer and Jared Polis have been working together to draft it, following principles that President Barack Obama laid out in January [http://politico.pro/1O71PUT]. An aide to Polis said the bill’s language would draw heavily on a voluntary, industry-backed Student Privacy Pledge [http://bit.ly/1zhrSlR ] that has been signed by 124 ed tech companies of all sizes, from startups to giants such as Apple and Google. A bill echoing the pledge would please the ed tech world. But it would likely raise red flags for privacy advocates, who have expressed concerns that the pledge contains too many loopholes to be useful. Among their objections: The pledge doesn’t require companies to get parental consent – or even to give parents advance notice – before collecting intimate information on their children’s academic progress and learning styles. It also explicitly allows companies to build personal profiles of children to help them develop or improve ed-tech products. They can’t sell those profiles, but some parents are uncomfortable with any use of student data for commercial gain. A refresher on the pledge: http://politico.pro/192EYsW”;