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Student privacy suit settled

November 3, 2008 by  

Students' data was sold to marketersA New Jersey-based company that operates by collecting information from students will have to allow participants to opt out of their service, following the settlement of a privacy lawsuit.

The settlement, announced by the state’s attorney general Anne Milgram, includes a $200,000 fine for Educational Research Center of America.

ERCA provided surveys to teachers in dozens of U.S. states, offering educators $40 gift cards as an incentive for participation.

Questions about ethnicity, religion, sports, hobbies and school activities were included in the surveys. The firm then sold the junior and senior high school students’ data to third parties to be used for marketing purposes.

The multistate settlement says that the company will be required to clearly show how students can choose to opt out of the survey. It also prohibits the organization from giving out monetary gifts to teachers.

Previously Iowa attorney general Tom Miller – who led the suit – pursued a similar company in 2006 for not letting children or teachers know that it was selling their information, the Des Moines Register reports.
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