Congressman Dave Loebsack.

Congressman Dave Loebsack.

Congressman Dave Loebsack says as more schools and parents use on-line resources to educate kids, it may be time to expand a federal law governing the privacy of student records.

“In those direct interactions between students and software companies, data are being collected to build user profiles, individualized learning experience and track progress,” Loebsack says. “But it is not always clear what protections exist to guarantee the privacy of those data and ensure companies are not using them to target advertisements at children, for example.”

Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, says with a “growing abundance” of valuable on-line study tools, it’s important that congress not overreact and hamper those advancements.

“it’s clear that we must strive to find a proper balance between privacy and innovation,” Loebsack says. “We must ensure that companies involved in collecting and analyzing student data are not exploiting students’ private information for marketing purposes or financial gain.”

Loebsack is a member of a congressional committee considering an update to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The law was originally passed in 1974 and governs the use and release of a student’s education and personal records. The law applies to all educational institutions which get government funding, so It covers students in all public K-through-12 schools and virtually all colleges and universities.