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Lawmakers, parents raise questions about student privacy at Illinois schools

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Thursday, August 9, 2018  |  Article  |  By Cole Lauterbach

Education reform (38) , Education--Elementary and Secondary (36)
As technology takes center stage in the classroom, Illinois lawmakers worry that students may be giving up sensitive information without their knowledge.

A group of parents concerned about how their children’s data is being protected spoke Tuesday to the House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, and IT Committee. They told lawmakers their children had been forced to take surveys for third-party companies, and unknowingly gave up personal information when they were issued devices at schools.

One year ago, Illinois’ Student Online Protection Act took effect, but advocates say that companies are finding ways around the law as technology evolves.

Cassie Creswell with Raise Your Hand Action told the committee that schools in Illinois are commonly dealing with data breaches and that the free technology that schools are using often mines the students' data for benefit.

“We certainly don’t want to say ‘here’s these great free apps but the cost is your data,'” she said.

Creswell was pushing for a bill that would allow parents more access to their student's data.

Sara Kloek with the Software and Information Industry Association said her member industries have strong rules in place to make sure student data is private and protected.

“Our members take student privacy very seriously,” she said, also cautioning that burdensome laws could keep children away from new technology, putting them behind others that have access.

Rebecca Glenberg, senior staff attorney with ACLU Illinois, said parents and administrators shouldn’t have to choose between not having access to technology and handing over a child’s sensitive information to a pervasive software system.

“No one should be coerced to give up their data as the cost to sending their child to public school.

Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy act has led to a number of services not being offered in Illinois.