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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Council Members Brewer, Jackson & Lander introduce resolution to protect student privacy

Council Members Gale Brewer, Robert Jackson and Brad Lander introduced a resolution in NYC Council today, calling on the NY State Legislature to pass and Governor Cuomo to sign a law protecting student privacy, requiring parental consent before personally identifiable data can be shared with private vendors and inBloom Inc.

The resolution is here, the press release below.

City Hall
NEW YORK, NY 10007
TEL:  212-788-6975
FAX:  212-513-7717

Council Member Brewer, Colleagues 

Introduce Resolution to Protect Student 

Data Privacy

Legislation Opposes State Plan to Sell Personal Student Information without Parental Consent
Contact:  Will Colegrove
Office: (212) 788-6975
Cell: (347) 461-4329
May 22, 2013 – Today, Council Member Gale A. Brewer will introduce a Resolution at the New York City Council Stated Meeting calling upon the New York State Legislature to pass legislation to protect student data privacy, by prohibiting the release of personal student information without consent.

The Resolution, co-sponsored by Council Members Jackson and Lander, is in support of A6059 (O’Donnell) / S4282 (Grisanti), State legislation which arose out of news that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has partnered with inBloom Inc., a technology company that aggregates student data in order to provide educational tools and content for parents, teachers, and students. There have been serious privacy concerns raised about this plan, as this data may be sold to third parties for commercial purposes, and may even contain sensitive personal information. The legislation would prohibit the release of personally identifiable information without parental consent, or the consent of a student who is 18 or older, unless certain exceptions apply.

According to Council Member Brewer, “While inBloom and the NYSED may have the best intentions in pursuing innovative ways to help our children learn, we cannot and should not give students’ personal information to commercial entities without parental consent. I have been a long-time advocate for technological innovation, including in the educational field. However, innovation and privacy are not mutually exclusive. Parents have a right to choose whether their children’s information is sold to a third party, and the NYSED needs to present a clear plan for how that data will be protected before this plan moves forward.”

"Parents are rightly horrified to hear that DOE plans to release private, identifiable student information to a private corporation. Even if the goal is to improve their educational products, this information, including student names, addresses, disciplinary records, and IEPs, is not DOE's to give without parental consent. Council Member Gale Brewer's Resolution will put the City Council on the record against this plan." – said Council Member Brad Lander.

"Parents entrust the Department of Education with very detailed, personal student information. Students' personal data shouldn't be shared with companies, especially if these corporations are going to use this data to develop curriculum materials that will be marketed right back to them. What's even more disturbing is the fact that this sharing of information is done without the express consent of parents and guardians or a disclosure. This is an outrageous violation of basic rights! Our students are not involuntary and unpaid focus group members to help corporations with product development." said Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee. “As parents expect the DOE to protect their children’s schools with school safety officers, parents have every right to expect that their children’s confidential information will be guarded with the same vigilance and not be shared to others."

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters said: “I want to thank the co-sponsors of this Resolution, Gale Brewer, Robert Jackson and Brad Lander, for stepping up and supporting our children’s right to privacy. The plan of the state and the city to put the most confidential student information on a data cloud managed by inBloom Inc., with an operating system devised by Murdoch’s Wireless Generation, and shared with for-profit vendors without parental consent has outraged voters not only in NYC but throughout the state. This outrage has led to the introduction of a bill, A.6059 /S.4284, with strong bipartisan support in the Legislature. The fact that data clouds are notoriously vulnerable has been recognized by inBloom itself, when it stated it would not be responsible if the data leaked out in storage or transmission. 

Four out of the nine states originally planning to share student data have now pulled out of inBloom. New York State and NYC, on the other hand, are still willing to risk our children’s safety and future life prospects, knowing full well how this highly sensitive data, including special education and disciplinary records, may be exploited, breached, and abused. I urge the Speaker to allow this Resolution to come to a vote as soon as possible.”

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