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Data privacy bill focuses on vendors

A new bipartisan student data privacy bill would impose requirements on outside vendors such as software and database companies that handle information about Colorado students.

The bill would prohibit vendors from doing targeted advertising based on student information, creating student profiles, selling student information or disclosing student information in most circumstances. Vendors could disclose student information as allowed by state and federal law.

Senate Bill 15-173 also maintains current state law about parent rights and consent relative to school surveys, assessments and other data gathering. (See bill text here.)

The bill is more narrowly focused than two measures introduced earlier, which are more concerned with strengthening parent consent requirements.

Those two bills have the potential disadvantage of being Republican in origin, introduced in the Democratic-controlled House. In contrast, SB 15-173 has bipartisan prime sponsors, Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, and Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. It was developed through discussions between school district representatives and parent advocacy groups.

The two Republican data bills are scheduled to be heard by the House Education Committee on Monday afternoon.

House Bill 15-1108 would set new rules for protection of data privacy, including the requirement that a super-majority of parents provide written consent for certain surveys and other things that would include collection of personal information about students. (Read bill here.)

House Bill 15-1199 sets detailed parent consent requirements, imposes limitations on vendors, restricts disclosure of data to third parties, requires destructions of most data five years after students have left school and sets criminal penalties for violations of the bill’s provisions (read bill). Holbert is a cosponsor of this measure.

After testing, data privacy is a key concern for some parent groups. Conservative groups also don’t like district questionnaires that ask personal questions about issues like drug use. The 2014 legislature passed a law that codified Department of Education data privacy policies. That law didn’t impose requirements on school districts, which have resisted new rules as unnecessary and as a financial burden that the state likely won’t pay for.

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