Privacy Protections Are Back on Table for Student Records

July 5, 2023 by Kennedy Thomason
Privacy Protections Are Back on Table for Student Records
A college student enjoying some alone time. (Photo via Pixabay)

WASHINGTON — A new bill, the Protecting Education Privacy Act, could bolster student privacy by restricting third-party access to their college and university records.

The bill was reintroduced just before the current House recess by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo.

Though rights to education records are given to students after they turn 18, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which went into effect in 1974, allows third-party officials access to student records.

Revisions made to the act in 2012 dismantled some of the protections surrounding student records, allowing third-party officials access to records containing personally identifiable information without student or parent consent or giving them notice. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act deals with personally identifiable information. This includes “a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.”

In its current state, it requires students or parents to be notified if personally identifiable information is disclosed to third parties. However, the 2012 amendments allow the information to be passed along without consent.

The Protecting Education Privacy Act would give power back to students and parents, Luetkemeyer said.

Further, it would limit the definition of third-party officials to those who work for, or are associated with, the college or university in question. 

Specifically, it would change the definitions of “authorized representative” and “education program.”

Both of these changes would allow greater protections surrounding student records by limiting who can access them, according to a press release from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

The Protecting Education Privacy Act has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

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  • Blaine Luetkemeyer
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