Jun 14 2001


 Legislation introduced by U. S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-AL) and U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) has been passed by the U.S. Senate. The "Student Privacy Protection Act" increases parental involvement and protects parents rights by requiring parental consent before schools may allow third party commercial interests to conduct non-educational marketing and data collection activities in the classroom.

Senator Shelby said, "Parents send their children to school to learn - not to be used as captive focus groups for marketers. These marketers should not be able to gain access to children in the classroom without first obtaining parents' permission."

"Last year a government study found that marketers and advertisers are increasingly targeting our children in the schools," added Shelby. "But for the school setting, marketers would not have direct access to children without going through the parent. Schools should not act as a back door to skirt parental control. Schools already obtain parental consent for many other non-educational activities such as field trips, internet access and after school programs."

The Shelby/Dodd legislation requires schools to obtain parents' permission prior to allowing non-educational marketing or data collection activities to take place in classrooms. The legislation would allow local school boards, in consultation with parents, to provide additional exceptions to the consent requirements so long as the information they seek to collect is not personally identifiable and the school notifies the parents of their policy on these data collection activities.

Shelby and Dodd are both members of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, a bipartisan, bicameral effort to educate members of Congress on matters of individual privacy, consent, and protection from unauthorized access to personal records.

The Shelby/Dodd legislation was passed as an amendment to S. 1, the Better Education for Students & Teachers Act.