Student Data Protection Legislation in the State of Wyoming
Wyoming’s HB 08 is a student data protection law that was passed in 2017. As many states around the country have drafted and implemented new legislation in the past few years to protect the personal information of students that attends schools within said states, Wyoming’s HB 08 was enacted for the purpose of amending and updating the requirements that educators, school administrators, and other related personnel must abide by when collecting, using, or disclosing personal data relating to students. More specifically, the law prohibits educators within the state from using personal information obtained from students for any purpose other than the fulfillment of their educational obligations.
What are the duties of educators under the law?
The duties that school districts and educators have under Wyoming’s HB 08 in regard to safeguarding the personal information of the various students they serve on a daily basis include:
- School districts are responsible for developing and implementing security measures and protocols that will protect the information of students from unauthorized access.
- In conjunction with the state the Department of Enterprise Technology Services, school districts are responsible for establishing criteria that can be used to regulate the collection, maintenance, storage, and dissemination of personal information.
- The state superintendent, the Department of Enterprise Technology Services, and school districts within Wyoming are responsible for developing and implementing data privacy and breach security plans that can be used to protect the personal information of students.
- School districts are prohibited from selling or transferring personal data obtained from students to private businesses or organizations.
Authorization and authentication mechanisms
In addition to the requirements stated above, school districts that serve children enrolled in K-12 institutions around the state are also responsible for creating and maintaining authorization and authentication mechanisms that can be used to verify student data. These mechanisms include the following:
- “Administrative, physical, and logical security safeguards, including employee training and data.”
- “Privacy and security compliance standards.”
- “Processes for identification of and response to data security incidents, including breach notification and mitigation procedures.”
- “Standards for the retention and verified destruction of student data.”
Alternatively, the data elements concerning K-12 students within the state of Wyoming that are protected under the law, in conjunction with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), include but are not limited to:
- Dates and place of birth.
- Email addresses.
- Physical addresses.
- Mother’s maiden name.
- Telephone numbers.
- Social security numbers.
- First and last names.
- The names of a student’s family members.
- Biometric records.
- Transcript data.
- Participation information.
- Credits attempted and earned.
- Financial account numbers.
- Socioeconomic information.
Working to comply with the law
As the obligations that school districts have under Wyoming’s HB 08 are numerous, ensuring the personal data of students within the state is safeguarded from foul play, while also using this information to aid students in achieving their educational goals can prove to be a challenging task. With all this being said, one way in which educators within Wyoming can tackle such issues is to invest in an automatic redaction software program. These software programs effectively allow users to render specific data elements, such as social security numbers, inaccessible, guaranteeing that they cannot be used for nefarious purposes. Conversely, the automatic functionality of these programs also allows educators to save valuable time and resources when looking to protect student data.
As students within the U.S. will be forced to disclose personal information concerning not only themselves, but also their family members, when looking to advance their academic careers, legislation such as Wyoming’s HB 08 serves to both regulate and govern this massive flow of information. In lieu of a federal comprehensive data privacy law, such as the EU’s General Data Protection or GDPR, laws such as Wyoming’s HB 08 play a huge role in protecting the personal privacy of citizens that reside in the multitude of jurisdictions that comprise the U.S. Subsequently, the provisions of the law provide parents and guardians within Wyoming with the peace of mind that their children’s personal data is legally protected, even when they are away from school.