One of the bills the Texas Legislature passed during 2017 was House Bill 2087, entitled the Student Privacy Act. The act protects data that a student or the student’s parents provide to a website or some other online application for education purposes. The type of information that is covered includes “discipline records, health records, biometric information, disabilities, food purchases, and geolocation information.”
The operators of the websites or other online services are prohibited from using the covered information provided by a student or the student’s parents to create targeted advertising. They are also forbidden from creating a profile of the student, unless it is for educational purposes, or selling or renting the information to a third party.
The website owners can reveal covered information under a number of specific circumstances, such as legal compliance. They can also use the information to improve educational products if it is not associated with a particular student (i.e. statistical data).
According to attorney Jake Posey, managing shareholder of The Posey Law Firm, PC, the act requires operators to institute reasonable security measures to protect a student’s data. They are required to delete the data if a school district requests it unless the student or his or her parents authorize it to remain.
The act recognizes a fact of life in the 21st century, that one’s personal information can and will be stored on a number of computer systems. The data needs to be secured and used only for reasons that are limited by law, the better to protect people’s privacy. Texas students should enjoy that protection as much as anyone else.
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