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Sunday, June 23, 2013

During the last days of session, the Assembly passes two bills to protect student privacy; Senate and Governor Cuomo fail to act

In the last few days of the legislative session, two bills to protect student privacy were approved by the NY Assembly: A.7872, introduced by Education Chair Cathy Nolan, which would allow parents to opt out of their children’s personal identifiable information from being shared with third parties, and A.6059A, introduced earlier by Assemblymember O'Donnell, that would block re-disclosures (as inBloom plans to do) to third parties without parental consent.  Unfortunately, the Senate did not act on either of these bills, or a similar bill to protect student privacy, introduced by Senator Grisanti, S.4284, that had strong bipartisan support. Despite the fact that nearly 3,000 parents also signed a petition to the Governor, asking him to intercede on their behalf, and  we met with Cuomo's top Education aide, De' Shawn Wright, about this, he did nothing on this issue either.
At this juncture,the NY State Education Department continues to ignore the protests of parents and the concerns elected officials, and is going ahead with a risky and unethical plan to share the most confidential, sensitive information of New York state’s public school students with inBloom Inc., to be uploaded onto  a vulnerable data cloud and provided to for-profit vendors without parental consent.  We will have to continue our struggle to protect student privacy and parental rights.
The press release put out by Speaker Silver about the passage of the Nolan bill follows.    

June 20, 2013

Assembly Passes Bill Giving Parents Control of Student Information 
When Requested by Third Parties
Measure Authorizes Parents to Determine Who Can Access their Children's Pre-K through 12th Grade Personally Identifiable Student Information

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell today announced the passage of legislation that would authorize the parents of students to determine who can have access to certain private information that is used to identify their children. 

“In this day and age of high speed computers, data mining and identity theft, we have to ensure that our son’s or daughter’s student information does not fall into the wrong hands,” said Silver.  “This bill will require that the information kept by schools about students remains private and will be disclosed only with the consent and knowledge of a student’s parents.” 
“The good old days when student information was stored in wooden filing cabinets and primarily shared by mail with college admission offices, scholarship boards and potential employers are long gone,” said Nolan. “This measure addresses the risks of the computerized world with safeguards that will keep the names, social security numbers, fingerprints and other personal information used to identify students confidential, and prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of this highly personal information.” 
“As a member of the house with a long-standing commitment to education and the future of children, I believe we need to enact measures that protect the personally identifiable information of students,” said O’Donnell. “This bill provides a simple solution to a complicated problem that will shield young people from the consequences of an unauthorized disclosure of their student information just as they are beginning the journey of life.” 
According to Silver, Nolan and O’Donnell, the legislation addresses concerns that have emerged following the decision by the State Education Department (SED) to share the personally identifiable information of students in grades K through 12 with commercial vendors who will store the data for use by SED. 
The bill (A.7872, Nolan) would empower the parents of students in pre-K through 12th grade to determine whether third party requests to access their children's student information will be granted. It also provides exceptions that permit access to certain student information in cases that require compliance with the law, a court order, subpoena, state and federal audits or health and safety emergencies. 
In addition, the measure requires SED to develop forms to authorize parents to prohibit the disclosure of their children's personally identifiable student information.

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