DENVER (AP) – Colorado is one step closer to adopting one of the nation’s toughest state laws to protect the privacy of student data.

Parents and educators long have worried about what becomes of students’ personal information as more software programs and apps are used in the classroom. That information can include grades, opinions, addresses, IDs, behavioral issues or suspensions.

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that defines at what point data accumulated by in-class programs can identify students. It requires companies to destroy, not just delete, that information, unless authorized by contract to keep it. And it notifies parents of Colorado’s K-12 students who is collecting data and why.

The bill goes back to the House for final approval before reaching the governor’s desk.

Technology has rapidly outpaced federal student privacy law, prompting 35 states to enact their own laws.

Colorado’s bill, crafted by Republican Rep. Paul Lundeen and Democratic Rep. Alec Garnett, calls for “personally identifiable information” to be destroyed, not just deleted, by educational vendors unless otherwise authorized by contract. Deleted information can be retrieved, the lawmakers say.

Under their bill, student data cannot be used for advertising or sold to third parties. Violators could lose their contracts with schools or the state.

“If you fail to protect it, that’s when your contract will be cancelled … and that’s what we will publicly display for all to see,” said Senate sponsor Owen Hill, a Republican who represents Colorado Springs.

Some parents fear their children’s record in K-12 schools could hurt them when applying for college or a job.

The Software Information Industry Association urged Colorado to adopt a model used by other states. It noted that technology companies use algorithms of data they receive from the classroom to improve teaching programs.

It also argued that contracts and a privacy pledge adopted by the trade group’s members ensures data privacy. The Federal Trade Commission can enforce the pledge.

LINK: House Bill 16-1423


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