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Privacy & Data

Study: State Databases Putting Children’s Personal Info at Risk

An eye-opening new study out of Fordham Law’s Center on Law and Information Privacy finds that state educational databases are lacking when it comes to protecting the personal information of K-12 children. Some states hand off the storage of this information to outside firms and do so without any restrictions on use or confidentiality for the children’s information, the study found.

The information on children collected in these electronic data warehouses includes matters related to teen pregnancies, mental health and juvenile crime; the report says that this information is often stored in a manner that “violates federal privacy mandates,” the study says.

From the report’s summary:

“Some striking examples are that at least 32% of the states warehouse children’s social security numbers, at least 22% of the states record children’s pregnancies, at least 46% of the states track mental health, illness, and jail sentences as part of the children’s educational records, and almost all states with known programs collect family wealth indicators.”

The study isn’t all finger pointing, it also outlines several critical recommendations to help increase the privacy, transparency and accountability of these databases. The study comes just as Congress is considering expanding and integrating the data collection process among the 43 states that currently collect this type of information on K-12 children.