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Big Brother: Meet the Parents

Big Brother Meet the Parents Stephanie Simon POLITICO com


You’ve heard of Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Now get ready for Big Parent.

Moms and dads from across the political spectrum have mobilized into an unexpected political force in recent months to fight the data mining of their children. In a frenzy of activity, they’ve catapulted student privacy — an issue that was barely on anyone’s radar last spring — to prominence in statehouses from New York to Florida to Wyoming.

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A months-long review by POLITICO of student privacy issues, including dozens of interviews, found the parent privacy lobby gaining momentum — and catching big-data advocates off guard. Initially dismissed as a fringe campaign, the privacy movement has attracted powerful allies on both the left and right. The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for more student privacy protection. So is the American Legislative Exchange Council, the organization of conservative legislators.

The amateur activists have already claimed one trophy, torpedoing a privately run, $100 million database set up to make it easier for schools to share confidential student records with private companies. The project, known as inBloom, folded this spring under tremendous parent pressure, just 15 months after its triumphal public launch.

Now, parents are rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers.

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At first I thought this was bad.

But now I'm thinking at least the parents care enough to want to protect their children.

And protecting student privacy seems like an important thing.

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