Fla. bill aims to protect student information

Bill looks to ban high-tech data collection

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A bill that would strengthen Florida's laws on protecting student information has received unanimous support from the Senate Education Committee.

The traditional pen and paper is almost obsolete thanks to new technology. Lawmakers want to make sure the same expanding tech isn't used to gather student information using biometrics.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, introduced the bill that bans high-tech data collection.

"We can get kids through a lunch line without taking their personal information," said Hukill. "In this day and age, this is something we need to be really concerned about."

Senate Bill 198 would prohibit the use of things like retinal scanners and computer palm readers from collecting student info at schools across the state.

Devices have already been used at some schools around the state on busses and in the lunchroom. With concerns about security, lawmakers want to know where the palm readout and retinal scans go, and who has access.

"The technology advances agree today that we have to be exceptionally sensitive and be able to protect the students and information," said Senate Education Committee Vice Chair Bill Montford. "All you have to look at is what's happened recently in another arena with Target."

"I don't know that those methods are necessary needed in order to ensure our students' security, but we're moving forward to make sure that our students and our students information is secure," said Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

The bill passed the education committee unanimously with a vote of 9-0.

The bill would also make it mandatory that parents are notified annually about their rights regarding education records.

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