Florida student privacy bill bans educational apps from selling data

Florida student privacy bill protects kids from EdTech platforms that harvest and sell their personal data while they learn.

Tech in the classroom should not collect student data.

Last week, the Florida state legislature passed a new student privacy bill – the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act  – in an effort to bolster student data privacy protections at school. 

How does the Florida student privacy bill protect kids? 

Many sites and apps students use for school include secretive technology that harvests student data and sells it to third parties. A 2022 study by Human Rights Watch found that 90% of educational apps do just this – turning a tool for learning into a tool for exploiting minors’ information for commercial gain, usually unbeknownst to students, teachers and parents alike.

Florida’s bill bans educational platforms from gathering any more information from students than is reasonably necessary to deliver the primary service of being a learning tool. It also bans companies from using student data for any non-educational purposes. This means student data cannot be sold to third parties or used for targeted advertising

Requiring companies to only gather the data that’s necessary to deliver the service a consumer is expecting to get, and using it for only that purpose, is a principle broadly known as data minimization. Data minimization is a good approach to data privacy. It’s encouraging to see Florida implement it in this law. 

How effective is the new Florida student privacy bill?

The bill is a good step towards protecting kids online. There are some open questions left – like how well enforcement will work, and what companies and products the bill will apply to. The Florida Department of Legal Affairs is currently the only enforcer, which is less ideal than if consumers were able to sue offending companies themselves. The bill also only applies to platforms specifically designed for  K-12 education, leaving out a lot of other websites, apps and online tools students interact with on a daily basis. 

Still, the bill is a big step forward for student privacy, while Congress considers its next steps.

What happens next? 

The bill goes into effect on July 1, 2023, and the State Board of Education may adopt rules to improve the law’s implementation at a later date.

Meanwhile, however, companies outside the EdTech space will largely continue to be able to collect, sell and use all of our data however they want. It’s essential for all companies to minimize collection for all consumers, not just children. Businesses should also take responsibility for respecting consumer privacy even before policymakers pass strong regulations.


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