White House backs student data privacy bill

The White House on Friday threw its weight behind a House bill to protect student data.

Introduced Wednesday by Reps. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), the measure would bar school technology vendors from selling student information to third parties or from creating student profiles for noneducational purposes.

The bill is known as the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act.

In a blog post, Jeff Zients, who heads the White House National Economic Council, called the bill “an important bipartisan step.”

President Obama has stumped on the issue in previous speeches. He touched on it during the State of the Union address, days after outlining the White House's own legislative proposal.

Like the Messer-Polis offering, the administration wants to forbid school tech providers from selling data to third parties.

“We want to prevent any kind of profiling that puts certain students at a disadvantage as they go through school,” Obama said during a speech at the Federal Trade Commission.

Some in the tech industry have worried such restrictions could prevent the legitimate use of student data to invent new products and tailor existing ones to individual student’s needs.

The Messer-Polis bill tries to account for this concern by allowing providers to use data to personalize students’ learning and improve products with de-identified student data.

The White House proposal has a similar provision.

“We believe that this won’t just give parents more peace of mind,” Obama said. “We're confident that it will make sure the tools we use in the classroom will actually support the breakthrough research and innovations that we need to keep unlocking new educational technologies.”

Sen. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalOvernight Healthcare: Biden hints at new money for cancer research | Trump details opioid plan | Dem urges feds to reject EpiPen settlement Dem calls on DOJ to reject EpiPen settlement Why Yahoo's breach could turn the SEC into a cybersecurity tiger MORE (D-Conn.) is expected to introduce a companion bill in the upper chamber soon.