June 19, 2021

New Research Report: “Transparency and the Marketplace for Student Data”

The following report/study is published by the Fordham Law School Center On Law And Information Policy.

From the Publication Announcement:

The Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School (Fordham CLIP) has released its findings from a multi-year study on the commercial marketplace for the sale and exchange of student information. Transparency and the Marketplace for Student Data sought to gain an understanding of the commercial marketplace for student data and the interaction with privacy law.

Over several years, Fordham CLIP reviewed publicly-available sources, made public records requests to educational institutions, and collected marketing materials received by high school students. The study uncovered and documented an overall lack of transparency in the student information commercial marketplace and an absence of law to protect student information.

Key Findings

  • Parents and students are generally unable to determine how and why certain student lists were compiled or the basis for designating a student as associated with a particular attribute like race, religion, and purported interests.
  • It is difficult to ascertain sources for student data; large school districts claim they do not sell directory information except to the military and other educational institutions.
  • Data brokers operating in the student information marketplace frequently change names, merge and have affiliated relationships, making it difficult to identify student data brokers.
  • Despite all of this, student lists are commercially available for purchase on the basis of ethnicity, affluence, religion, lifestyle, awkwardness and even a perceived or predicted need for family planning services. The findings also revealed that a profitable ecosystem for commercial student data exists, but a lack of transparency and accessibility to information remains. Based then on the research and the deficiencies in existing law and regulation of the commercial marketplace for student data,

Direct to Complete Publication Announcement (Including Recommendations From Fordham CLIP)

Direct to Full Text Report (via SSRN)
38 pages; PDF. 

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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