Bill that bolsters student data protections passes Ohio Senate
Legislation that more strictly regulates how educational data is maintained and used in Ohio is closer to becoming law after a unanimous vote Wednesday on the state senate floor.
Senate Bill 29 generally prohibits technology providers contracted by Ohio districts and schools from selling or sharing student data, which is now defined as school, not third-party, property. That includes for marketing or advertising.
Schools would have to tell parents which providers they are contracting with, and if that agreement ends, providers are tasked with giving what records they’ve collected back to schools—or destroying them. Parents must be notified of what hardware and software schools will use by Aug. 1 annually, according to the legislative text.
Within those contracts, SB 29 would also require that technology providers and schools “ensure appropriate security safeguards,” including through written a clause that bars unauthorized access to student data by anyone working for a provider.
Its sponsor, Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), said more and more Ohio students are being issued devices for school purposes, but he believes parents should be the ones monitoring their online presence.
“School districts across our state and our nation have begun to install surveillance software to watch online interactions, in an attempt to keep students on track with their studies,” Huffman said. “Everyone deserves a right to privacy, and students are no different.”
Gary Daniels, ACLU chief lobbyist and a SB 29 proponent, said it’s long overdue.
“What is missing is common sense, statewide regulation that allows use of this technology for legitimate educational and other purposes but balances that with robust protections for the personal and private information of our students,” Daniels testified in March. “The ACLU of Ohio believes SB 29 threads that needle.”
During the committee hearing process in the senate, no opponents signed on to testify against the bill. SB 29 now awaits a committee assignment and hearing in the Ohio House. The legislation in full can be found here.