To: Eric Schneiderman, NYS Attorney General, Thomas P. DiNapoli, NYS Comptroller, NYS Board of Regents, John B. King, Commissioner NYSED, Merryl H. Tisch, Chancellor, The New York State House, The New York State Senate, and Governor Andrew C...
Protect New York State School Children
Stop the New York State Education Department (NYSED) from sharing confidential information without parental consent and violating the privacy rights of students and parents.
Why is this important?
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is undertaking an unnecessary and highly controversial data sharing program with a private, non-governmental entity, called inBloom, Inc. They are creating a massive database for the storage and eventual release or sale of information, including confidential and sensitive “personally identifiable information” (PII) of millions of New York State school children. NYSED is capturing and uploading this information without first obtaining consent from parents or legal guardians. In many cases, data is being captured and uploaded without even parental or guardian knowledge.
This information consists of more than 400 data points per child and will be stored in a “cloud,” hosted and managed by inBloom, or vendors of inBloom’s choosing. These data points include: the student’s name, address, academic record, test scores, detailed disciplinary record, attendance/ absence record, economic status and income information, special education status (i.e., IEP, 504), parent and family circumstances, medical and health records, and more.
NYSED’s actions violate the privacy of New York State’s public and charter school children, as well as those of their parents and legal guardians. Parents and guardians have the right to decide who has access to confidential information about their children. Parents and guardians have the right to review any PII about their child currently on file with their local school district and NY State. They have the right to be notified of any intention by NY State to share and/or sell confidential PII about their children. If they do not wish to have this information stored or disseminated, they should be given the right to have this information withheld or removed from the State's database, and/or any database of any entity engaged by the State.
The potential dangers to children by the transfer of their PII to cloud storage are substantial. The data can be hacked, sabotaged or otherwise compromised. Even the “authorized release” of this data by the State and/or inBloom could result in significant harm, including stigma and discrimination against children as they progress through their elementary or secondary education, college, future employment and life.
NY State is the only state in the country that is uploading this highly sensitive, confidential PII with inBloom. All other states that originally contracted with inBloom have cancelled their programs due to the privacy and vulnerability concerns stated above.
We the undersigned oppose the creation of this database and the collection, storage, and release (potentially to for-profit companies) of any and all confidential and private PII without the express consent of parents or legal guardians.
Accordingly, we demand the following:
• Immediate cessation of all transfer of PII to inBloom, and/or its partners, and/or affiliates;
• Immediate termination of NYSED’s contract with inBloom;
• The swift passage of strongly worded legislation that 1) protects the privacy of students and safeguards PII, 2) provides parents/legal guardians with the opportunity to decide who has access to PII about their children and the right to withhold such information from NYSED, 3) requires explicit written consent of parents/legal guardians before NYSED can disclose PII, and 4) imposes civil and criminal penalties on those who violate State privacy laws.
• Review and restrict the number and type of data points NYSED is allowed to obtain from school districts; review the financial and emotional costs to the students, parents and taxpayers of New York State related to NYSED’s current contract with inBloom, and the current uploading of PII; and assure the immediate termination and punishment of any government official found to have caused harm.
We call on the officials listed above to stop NYSED and inBloom and put an end to the invasion of student and parent privacy. We are resolved to protect the children of New York State.