President Obama announced new consumer protection regulations aimed at protecting kids from corporations—evil, greedy corporations—that use students' data to try to sell them things they might actually want.
This is a terrifying prospect that requires immediate government intervention.
Obama touted his Student Digital Privacy Act during a speech at the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, where he attempted to assuage concerns that cumbersome federal legislation would hamper the market's ability to produce new education technologies. His law would be based on a similar one approved in the state of California, according to POLITICO:
Once it takes effect next January, the California law will bar education technology companies from selling student data or using that data to create profiles of students or to target them with advertising. It specifically protects a long list of data that private companies might have access to through their work with schools, including students' grades, medical records, test scores, photos, text messages, food purchases, political affiliations, voice recordings and disciplinary records.
A federal version of the California law would vastly expand the narrow student privacy protections now on the books.
"This is a really big deal," said James Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, a national advocacy group which helped write the California law and plans to promote similar bills in state legislatures nationwide.
(Anybody interested in learning what sort of kid-focused content raises the ire of this Common Sense Media advocacy group should check out its website. Hint: violent video games and entertainment.)
The president promised that his legislation wouldn't get in the way of innovation—as long as said innovation is for strictly educational purposes. But data mining should not be used "to market to our children," he vowed.
Because we can't let corporations have too much power over our kids. That's what sweeping federal legislation is for.
Watch the announcement below.