Jan 16 2015

Obama Reveals the Student Digital Privacy Act

President Barack Obama is slated to outline a Student Digital Privacy Act in his upcoming State of the Union Address.

Obama briefly described the privacy act during a speech at the Federal Trade Commission on Monday, saying technology in education could be a powerful tool for learning, but shouldn't be used for marketing.

"We’re saying that data collected on students in the classroom should only be used for educational purposes -— to teach our children, not to market to our children," Obama said. "We want to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes other than education."

The act appears to reflect legislative steps taken by California in a landmark law approved in October that restricts how education technology companies can utilize information harvested from students.

Spurred by that action, more than 75 companies have signed a voluntary pledge to protect student data, including Microsoft and Houghton Mifflin.

Obama applauded the pledge, thanking those that have supported it, and encouraged those who had not yet signed to take action.

"I want to encourage every company that provides these technologies to our schools to join this effort. It’s the right thing to do. And if you don’t join this effort, then we intend to make sure that those schools and those parents know you haven’t joined this effort."

EdSurge interviewed the leaders of two education technology startups to understand how such legislation could affect them.

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