Student privacy act enacted by governor

Many people have concerns regarding online personal information safety, and rightfully so. 

On Sept. 19, Governor Jerry Brown passed a new law protecting this information, which is called the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA). 

California is the first state to pass such a law. Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg wrote the Senate Bill 1177 and Governor Brown then signed it off. 

The bill prohibits companies from using personal information that they can gather from computer programs which students use. 

This primarily affects grades K-12 and will protect information gathered through websites, services and applications. 

“Senator Steinberg’s expansive bill to protect students’ personal information online is the vanguard for consumer rights in the digital era. Until this point, protecting students’ online information has been a Wild West,” said Richard Holober, executive director of the consumer federation of California. “This bill supports a consumer’s right to have their data used in a way that is consistent with how it was gathered.”

This progression is intended to make a huge impact on children and teens. 

It will add a level of comfort to parents who were previously concerned for their children’s protection. 

Considering the technology age people live in today, many schools use computers, iPads and other tablets on a regular basis. 

This means students are on programs throughout the day that presumably ask for personal information. 

Even if it’s something as small as how many people live in your house, which is still personal information from a student.     Having this protection act allows parents to rest, assured that this information is kept confidential.

“This is a win for kids, teachers, and California’s booming ed-tech industry,” said the law’s author, Senate President Pro Te Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) in a public statement. “We moved ahead of a problem by working closely with educators, parents and technology companies to write a first-in-the-nation law that also proves privacy and online innovation can be complimentary partners.”

Prior to this law passing, the only online privacy protection that was in place was when online educational technology programs contained privacy policies that they themselves saw as fit. 

Now, all programs will have to follow the same set standard for privacy. 

Sonoma State University senior Vera Massingill is the day-care coordinator at Dunham Elementary School in Petaluma. 

Since students ranging from transitional kindergarten to sixth grade surround her everyday, this bill plays an important role in her life. 

“Dunham has started using quite a few online resources like Khan Academy during daily classroom activities, and knowing that our kids’ information is officially protected has been a huge relief,” said Massingill. “With our own privacy being compromised so often, it’s nice to know that at least our kids are safe.”

Massingill holds these students near and dear to her heart, so knowing extra precautions are being taken to protect their safety adds a level of comfort for her. 

However, this act won’t have a huge impact on all students in California. Evan Ferguson, IT help desk manager, doesn’t see this making a major impact on the lives of Sonoma State students. 

He believes students won’t know for sure until time continues and their are results from this law. 

The passing of this act prevents educational technological services from creating profiles on students unless it’s being used for clear educational purposes. 

In some circumstances, companies were using data mining techniques to get specific information on their users. 

Data mining consists of processes that remember what specific information people were searching on their computers. They then use that to target the specific ads that would cater to the desires of the users. 

The Student Online Personal Information Protection Act will hopefully make a major impact in the safety and protection of younger students.