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School-issued laptop data vulnerable to thieves

Posted: 10:21 PM, Mar 31, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-01 02:03:06-04

Protecting your own identity is one thing, but protecting your child's privacy outside your home is whole lot tougher.  

A troubling gap in the law is opening our kids up to all kinds of identity theft issues, according to Colorado state legislators, and in this ever-evolving high tech era -- many kids now have a school issued lap top, iPad or smart device.           

The problem? The minute they log on, they leave a digital trail, which could make them vulnerable to hackers and other types of cyber attacks aimed at stealing their personal information. 

“I’ve heard from a lot of parents in my district who are concerned,” said Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “There are no protections in place for student-generated data.”

"The ability to collect an enormous amount of information and data on those students is through the roof," said state Rep. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument.

Think about it this way: Each student is unique. Everything they type, click on, look at on their school issued device -- from websites to apps, even their personal preferences, birth dates, gender, age and location -- can be harvested by third party vendors.           

Lawmakers argue it's not only companies who want that information -- bad guys want it, too.         

So right now, the state is scrambling this legislative session to pass a law that blocks anyone outside the school from getting your kid's information.

"One thing we haven't done a good job of is building a framework to protect that data," said Garnett, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Lundeen.

"And it's the students in the public education system whose privacy could be lost," said Lundeen.

The bill, HB 16-1423, goes before the full House this week. Both Garnett and Lundeen seem to believe they have bi-partisan support on the bill.           

Lundeen said four other states, including California, Washington, Michigan and Georgia, have passed similar laws.

“Right now, anyone could create a profile on an individual student that could be collected over time,” said Garnett. “And possibly sold and used improperly. At the moment, it’s not theft, because there are no safeguards in place.”

“We’ve got a deficit in trust,” said Lundeen. “The parents and community don’t trust what information is being collected on their students." 

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