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Georgia Unanimously Passes Student Data Privacy, Accessibility and Transparency Act

Pundits are calling the state's new student data privacy law the most comprehensive in the nation.

A new law in Georgia should strengthen data privacy for students and create new controls around the management of student data.

Senate Bill 89, known as the Student Data Privacy, Accessibility and Transparency Act, was passed unanimously and signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal on May 6.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Albers (R) and Rep. Buzz Brockway (R), requires an inventory of all data elements collected, along with explanations for why the collection is taking place. Parents now have the explicit right to review their child’s education record, and schools are required to provide electronic copies of student records to parents upon request. The act will also eliminate data collection not deemed necessary in a student’s education record, like political or religious affiliation.

The state is required by the act to develop a data security plan that will keep student data as safe as possible. Technology vendors working with schools will be required to develop security procedures and prohibited from selling personal information about students to advertisers or anyone else.

The state Department of Education is also required by the act to designate a chief privacy officer who will oversee the enforcement of these new regulations.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) praised the act’s passage, citing it as the most comprehensive law of its kind in the nation.

“By addressing all three legs of the stool — data collected by government, data collected by vendors and parental access to their own child's data — Georgia's law is a model for other states," FEE CEO Patricia Levesque said in a statement. “We commend Gov. Deal, Sen. Albers and Rep. Brockway, and the entire Georgia Assembly, for their leadership in building a trusted learning environment that balances the necessary use and safeguarding of student data." 

The state law’s passage follows the April introduction of a similar bipartisan federal bill that if passed would establish safeguards against technology vendor usage of student data.

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.