State lawmakers are considering a bill, dubbed the Student Data Privacy Act, that would put additional regulations on how school officials and others can access data on students’ electronic devices. Sponsor, Republican Eric Lucero says a school district would have to document that there’s “reasonable suspicion”: “That it’s not arbitrary. It’s the ability to articulate and document what the reasoning was for going into a student’s technology system.” But some caution that similar regulations are already in state law, and unless legislators first evaluate those, a new statute will just create a confusing patchwork of regulations.
Ben Feist with ACLU Minnesota says under the proposed new law, a warrant would be required to GPS track a student’s device, unless it’s stolen or lost — or there’s a threat to life or safety. Feist says, “You need… a tracking warrant to track the location of your cell phone. The same thing would apply to a student’s iPad, so you can’t just find out they’re over at Jimmy’s house unless there’s a really good reason to know that.”
On a related issue, the technology officer from the Anoka-Hennepin School District — Minnesota’s largest — warned legislators of possible conflicts between state and federal laws that regulate how school districts monitor students’ Internet use.