A new Minnesota law, the Student Data Privacy Act, bans schools and their technology providers from tracking students’ activities via school-issued laptops or software, as well as from selling, sharing or disseminating young people’s educational data. HF 2353 was passed unanimously by the House and Senate before being signed by Gov. Tim Walz in late May.
Neither schools nor their technology providers can surveil students via tools such as remote location tracking or web cameras, except for specific exceptions such as instances of a device being stolen or activities “necessary to respond to an imminent threat to life or safety.” Additionally, “student interactions” with a school-issued device — for example, his or her web-browsing activity — cannot be electronically accessed or monitored.
Public schools in Minnesota must now notify students and parents about any contracts with tech providers that grant these companies access to young people’s educational data. These school-provider agreements must include security safeguards, and once the contracts are up, the tech companies must destroy the data or return the information to the educational institutions.
Student data privacy laws are in place in all Midwestern states except Wisconsin, according to Student Privacy Compass, a website that tracks this activity. Another Minnesota bill from this year, HF 3724, would have barred social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram from using algorithms to drive user-generated content to those under age 18. It failed to advance.