Category: Privacy

Conservatives Rally Against Data Collection Bills from the Alabama Political Reporter

By Brandon Moseley

The legislature has returned for another session and some GOP legislators are once again pushing a longitudinal data collection scheme. Once again the primary opponents of this grand scheme are fellow Republicans. On Thursday, February 23 Alabama Eagle Forum led a conservative rally in opposition to the longitudinal data bills, House Bill 97 and Senate Bill 153.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) read a statement from his wife, state school board member Jackie Zeigler (R) vowing to oppose the data collection.

A statement was read from Representative Barry Moore (R from Enterprise). Moore said that only communist countries think they can direct children into career paths from early childhood. Moore questioned education rankings where countries that have invented nothing and innovated nothing are ranked higher than the U.S.

Rep. Arnold Mooney (R from Indian Springs) said that liberty loving people must be most on guard when the government acts with good intentions.

Rep. Ed Henry (R from Hartselle) said, “Does government need all of this information to better serve the public?”

Henry said that when he was campaigning, “Nobody ever said I wished the government would collect more data on me.” Henry said, “There really are not evil people down here we are just differing on which side we need to be on this.” Henry warned that we will end up losing our nation as we know it.” This would put us on a dangerous path and I don’t have any desire to be part of it.”

Senator Rusty Glover (R from Mobile) said, “We didn’t come to Montgomery to grow the size of government and this is growing the size of government. Sen. Glover said, “I have received dozens and dozens of phone calls from constituents asking,” for this to be stopped. I have not had the first parent or student asking that this be done.”

Glover has recently announced his 2018 candidacy for Lieutenant Governor. Current Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey is term limited from running again.

State School Board member Stephanie Bell (R) warned of a potential for government tyranny with this. At this point the best place for HB97 and SB153 is the trash can. Bell said that the federal government has demonstrated in the last year how vulnerable their data bases are to hacking. They can not secure the data. “This is about growing bureaucracy.” This will become one of the biggest budget items in state government in future.

Joe Godfrey ALCAP quoted GK Chesterton: “It is only in believing in God that we can ever criticize government, because without God they will worship government as God.” Godfrey warned of the dangers of giving the state of Alabama that much power. We need to encourage our legislators to stand strong in opposition to this.

Rep. Allen Farley (R from McCalla) said, “I am a Christian conservative member of the Republican Party in that order.” Farley said, “The poor schools are in the poor communities.  Most of the prison population comes from the poor communities.” “As a Republican we believe in smaller government but a big and great God. Farley warned about the danger of data collection.

State School Board member Betty Peters (R) said, “I have no faith that no harm will be done.” “We have new things coming at our children every day that invade our children’s privacy.” “We must assure that no harm is done,” to the children of the state. This database is being run by a board with very few elected people on it. At the state Board of Education we asked questions. Then Governor ordered the board set up through an executive order with all of these appointed people, many of them appointed by him. I do not like appointed boards where everybody is appointed. I am elected if you don’t like what I am doing you can vote me out. Appointed people only answer to the person who appointed them.

Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director Deborah Love, who emceed the event, thanked all the legislators who attended and said, “We can count on their vote as a no vote and a yes vote for liberty.”

Rep. Mike Holmes (R from Wetumpka) said that the HIPAA data was also supposed to be secure. The dirty little secret is those HIPAA laws are not being enforced. There are 1300 complaints against the people running the database and the same people who maintain that data base are the people who is running this data base. Data mining of the database has become big business. if they can do that with the medical database they can do that with this.

Conservatives Rally Against Data Collection Bills

Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director, Deborah Love’s recently published article addresses creation of State Longitudinal Data System

By Deborah Love, executive director of Eagle Forum of Alabama, she also was appointed to and served on the Alabama ESSA Implementation Committee on Data Collection and Early Learning sub-committees

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/02/how_much_is_your_childs_privac.html

Justice Brandeis wrote, “the right to privacy is the right to be left alone.” Privacy is an essential aspect of a free society. Yet Representative Terri Collins is once again pushing a state longitudinal database bill in the Alabama legislature. A state longitudinal database is a centrally controlled database which collects and stores personally identifiable information on students. This centrally controlled database will track students throughout their lives and continuously consolidate personal data between multiple state agencies. While the bill has been renamed “Answers” this year it provides few. Instead it will give broad powers to what will be a newly created agency and advisory board with no accountability.

Though the Alabama Department of Labor has promised the bill does not allow the collection of private and personal student information, the bill itself contradicts that claim. Its collection and retention is clearly anticipated in the bill. The bill describes “security clearance requirements for individuals with access to personally identifiable information.” The bill goes further to describe who has direct access to this information. “Direct access to personally identifying information in the system shall be restricted to staff and authorized representatives of the office.”

Personally identifiable information could be a home address of a student or where they work. This means a government employee not involved with a child’s education on a local level will have access to a student’s geographic location on a daily basis. Data in the system will only go through a deidentification process if released to the public or researchers. This does not restrict the collection and retention of personally identifiable information within the system or among state agencies.

Information is personally identifiable because anyone can use this information and then identify the student by name. Personally identifiable information can be anything that identifies you as you. Aggregate data points combined can also become personally identifiable when combined in one central lo-cation. HB97 and its companion bill SB153 will combine information from ten state agencies in a central location and can potentially combine information from “any additional public agency or entity”.

The bill does not provide new state protection for student privacy; instead, the bill only punishes an actor merely for improperly sharing student data without the permission of the agency. The agency though will be collecting personally identifiable information on individual students. Government tracking of individual citizens including students is a violation of fundamental privacy rights. Senator Del Marsh and the Department of Labor claim that the information will be kept confidential. But this is a false promise as the bill only contains vague promises to create plans at a later date or internal policies with no outside accountability. HB97/SB153 acknowledges that breaches will occur as it instructs the advisory board to develop “plans for responding to security breaches.”

The philosophical foundation of HB97/ SB153 is that central planning works, that governments have the right to monitor the movements of individuals in addition to collecting unlimited information on private citizens throughout the course of their lives. These premises violate essential liberties that must be respected in a free society and violate the proper role of government in society. Human history has provided many examples of what types of government abuses result when this type of power is given to the government. If the government has the right to track and collect personal information through-out the course of an individual’s life, then there is no truly free citizen.

Only current state and Federal law are mentioned in HB97/SB153 as privacy protections; but the comprehensive Student and Parent Privacy Protection Bill was not passed in the last Alabama legislative session. In addition, the Alabama bills cite dependence on the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which was passed in 1974. However, the Federal Department of Education gutted FERPA in December of 2011. On January 3, 2012, changes went into effect that allowed for the collection of student data by third parties. FERPA is outdated to address current privacy threats with the changes from emerging technology. Thus there is no state or federal law which protects the massive amount of student data that will be collected in this longitudinal data system.

At the first senate meeting on the bill this session the sponsor claimed the purpose of the bill was “to meet the demands of industry.” This vague purpose is focused subsidization of certain business interests and increasing power of unelected state agency heads. This alliance is for the mutual benefit of these special interests, but not for students. Parents and students should know that this bill allows and requires a centrally controlled data collection system to track students through the course of their lives and to collect unlimited personal information on students and potentially other citizens.

Alabamians, parents and eligible students must ask themselves how important their privacy is because it is about to be handed over to a state agency and an advisory board controlled by special interests.

Students, parents and private citizens were not allowed to speak at House and Senate meetings on the bills this week even though public hearings were requested. Yet multiple government agencies were allowed to speak in support of the bills.

Apparently for supporters of HB97/SB153 your child’s privacy means less than the misguided demands of big industry and bureaucrats.

How Much is Your Child’s Data Worth?

Rep. Terri Collins has introduced HB97, the State Longitudinal Database bill (companion bill is SB153).  The Alabama Department of Labor has promised the bill does not allow for collection of private and personal student information, but the bill itself contradicts the department.  It  describes, “security clearance requirements for individuals with access to personally identifiable information.”

The bill’s sponsor describes its purpose “is to meet the demands of industry”.   It is not the duty of government to train workers for industry or to track students into state selected jobs.  Regardless, there is no reason important enough to turn over any of your child’s personal, non-academic information.  The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, ” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

There are no real protections outlined in the bill.  Only current state and Federal law are mentioned.  Dependence is placed upon FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act), which is a federal act that was gutted in December 2011.  With FERPA, data collection is now available to third parties.  The comprehensive Student and Parent Privacy Protection bill could have provided significant protection, but Rep. Collins refused even to bring it before her Education Policy Committee for discussion last year.

HB97 acknowledges that breaches will occur as it instructs the advisory board to develop “plans for responding to security breaches.”

See Eagle Forum of Alabama Executive Director Deborah Love’s opinion piece on HB97 here and here.

Protecting student privacy rights should come first when making public policy and legislative decisions.  Please encourage your legislators to vote NO on HB97 and its companion Senate Bill, SB 153.

You may reach your House member by calling 334-242-7600 and asking for their office.  The  Senate  number is 334-242-7800. 

To find your legislators, visit http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislators

 

Bi-Partisan Legislation Provides Critical Protection for Students and Parents

The Student and Parent Privacy Protection Act HB267 was filed yesterday by 
Rep. Arnold Mooney, with 35 co-sponsors.  The bill is a result of a large 
bi-partisan effort to protect student privacy in Alabama. Thirty-three 
states have already passed similar legislation.

The bill must pass out of the Education Policy Committee. Its members need 
to hear from us. Please encourage the following members to vote HB267 out 
of committee ASAP: Chairman Collins, Vice-Chairman Rich, Robinson, Butler, 
Drummond, Fincher, Henry, Moore (B), Patterson, Pringle, Scott, Todd and 
Williams (P). 

Please contact your State Representative 
(http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislators). Tell him your child's 
privacy is important to you and your family. Ask him to support this 
bi-partisan effort to protect the privacy of our children.

Thank the co-sponsors: Fridy (M), Moore (B), Wingo, Black, Hammon, Beech, 
Williams (P), Daniels, Farley, Whorton (R), Holmes (M), Hanes, Todd, 
Fincher, Williams (JW), Whorton (I), Shedd, Ainsworth, Ledbetter, Scott, 
Drake, Pettus, Warren, Knight, Harbison, Hall, Polizos, Henry, Carns, 
Brown, Martin, Standridge, Beckman, Wadsworth and Givan.
 

What does this bill do?

This bill sets limits as to what data may not be collected and shared. It 
provides for what data may be used on the local level to a minimum degree 
for clearly stated academic purposes.  It sets limits on the State 
government and data collection systems and programs in order to protect 
students and parents from invasive government practices.  It protects the 
civil liberties of students and parents which are foundational to strong 
academics, freedom of speech and progress. It limits the collection of 
certain sensitive information and the disclosure of personally identifiable 
student information to third parties. It provides for enforcement and 
penalties.


Why is it needed?

There is not adequate privacy protection at the state or federal level 
currently to protect student privacy in Alabama’s Public Schools.  As 
technology has developed rapidly the laws are not in place to address 
the pressing civil liberty violations facing students and parents. 
Students are being used as pawns in experimental programs, tracked by 
the government and tracked by corporations targeting these students to 
sell and research their products.


What protections will be provided by HB267?

•	Keeps data and student information on the local level where it 
was intended to be used for the benefit of the student and not outside 
agencies or corporations. Prohibits the broad sharing of personal data 
collected on Alabama’s students.
•	Protects personal identifiable student information from being 
shared without specific protections. Requires the state and third party 
contractors to follow certain security and privacy protection measures.
•	Prohibits the collection of highly sensitive information on 
students, such as religious affiliation or political beliefs from being 
collected by the school system.
•	Requires parental and student notification for the use of their 
personally identifiable student information.
•	Removes loopholes which stop parents and students from having 
real accountability once a privacy violation occurs.
•	Prohibits invasive overreach of outside parties obtaining 
personally identifiable student information.
•	Provides parents and students with access to monitor their 
child's personal record so that they can ensure information is correct 
and that violations have not occurred.
•	Protects parents and students from unfair treatment from the 
state for exercising their privacy rights.


How can you help?

E-mail or call your State Representative today. Ask them to support 
House Bill 267! We need the Student and Parent Privacy Protection Act 
passed this session! Please go to our website to find your legislators. 
http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislators