Testimony to Congress details importance of student privacy, necessity of federal reform

Today I had the privilege of testifying before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education during a hearing, “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy.”

This hearing was both timely and significant. As technology plays an increasing role in education, parents and students are thinking about the data collected by schools and the extent to which it is being gathered and protected. My testimony detailed the commitment Microsoft has made to protect student privacy while providing services that help children learn. I outlined to the subcommittee why federal law is outdated and suggested solutions to better protect student privacy.

education, privacy
Microsoft’s Allyson Knox testifies on the importance of student privacy at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

Technology holds the promise to transform education, enable personalized instruction, and help children learn. Yet despite this promise, the primary federal law focused on protecting student privacy, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, no longer reflects the reality of today’s education system and the new technologies that are being used. The time has come to do the difficult work of revising this law to bring it into the 21st century.

Microsoft was one of the first companies to recognize the need to treat sensitive student data in the same way that we treat other customer data, such as government, health or financial services data. Recently, our company was among the 14 original signers of the “K-12 School Service Provider Pledge to Safeguard Student Privacy,” a framework that would establish minimum standards for the maintenance, collection and use of student data. Today, more than 100 companies have signed the pledge.

I was grateful for the opportunity to add Microsoft’s voice to this important debate. Thank you to the subcommittee and specifically to Chairman Rokita for holding this hearing. To view the webcast of this hearing, click here. A full copy of my written testimony is posted on the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s website here.

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