For immediate release | June 22, 2016

Seeing the Big Picture on Student Data Privacy at 2016 ALA Annual Conference

ORLANDO, Fla.—Every day, technology is making it possible to collect and analyze more data regarding students’ performance and behavior, including their use of library resources. The use of big data in the educational environment, however, raises thorny questions and deep concerns about individual privacy and data security.
These and other related issues will be the focus of a timely June 27 session at the American Library Association’s (ALA) upcoming 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. The session “Student Privacy: The Big Picture on Big Data,” will offer librarians and educators the opportunity to view the “big picture” of student data privacy.
Elana Zeide, a fellow at New York University’s Information Law Institute and an affiliate of the Data & Society Research Institute, will discuss how the growing use of big data threatens student privacy and how evolving state and federal data privacy laws directly impact school and academic libraries. Questions from the press and audience will be encouraged.
Zeide is an attorney, scholar, and consultant focusing on student privacy, predictive analytics, and the proverbial permanent record in the age of big data. She examines the law, policies, and cultural norms emerging as education, and the rest of society, becomes increasingly data-driven. Zeide advises parents, educators, companies, and policymakers about information practices in both traditional schools and virtual learning environments. She also writes for popular and academic publications, including the recent Future of Privacy Forum report, “19 Times Data Analysis Empowered Schools and Students: Which Students Succeed and Why?,” and Drexel Law Review article, “Student Privacy Principles for the Age of Big Data.”
A just published report from the University of Colorado, "Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School," highlights the particular privacy concerns arising from schools' partnerships with commercial entities who frequently provide free technology to schools. According to the authors, these commercial entities use the free technology to track students online and collect massive amounts of data about them. The authors observe that these practices threaten to create a generation of students who are socialized as consumers to believe that others have a right to keep their behavior under constant surveillance.
These concerns have spurred privacy advocates, including the American Library Association, the Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), to petition the U.S. Department of Education to amend the regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to include a new rule that would require administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of students' personally identifiable information.
As a result, state legislatures and U.S. Congress are considering a growing number of bills intended to better regulate the use of student data and protect students' privacy. California's legislation, the Student Online Private Information Protection Act, has become a model for these efforts.
WHO: Elana Zeide, fellow at New York University’s Information Law Institute
WHEN: Monday, June 27, 2016, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Orange County Convention Center
Room W206A
9800 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819
REGISTER: To attend the conference session as a reporter, please email Jazzy Wright, press officer, American Library Association Washington Office, at


Jazzy Wright

Press Officer

American Library Association

ALA Washington Office