Commercial Alert Seeks Support for Student Privacy

On June 14, the U.S. Senate passed the Student Privacy Protection Act, which would require parental consent before a corporation or person could extract personal information from a child in school for commercial purposes. However, the bill faces strong opposition from the anti-privacy lobby, advertisers, some publishers and Primedia Inc., which owns Channel One. "Increasingly, corporations wish to use the schools to gather personal information and market research from schoolchildren -- without parental consent, and against the wishes of many parents," notes Gary Ruskin of Commercial Alert. "Companies such as the ZapMe! Corp., N2H2 Inc. and Noggin, among others, have tried to turn the schools into market research factories. Since we compel children to attend school under force of law, we ought to protect them from companies that would use the schools to violate their privacy."