Candidates’ vote for legislation expanding surveillance of citizens could sway conservatives in Indiana primary.

November 11, 2017 2 Comments

Are you a Hoosier trying to decide who to vote for in the upcoming Senate primary race? If you’re debating between Reps. Messer and Rokita, keep your eye on the College Transparency Act (CTA).  Both Rokita and Messer sit on the House Education and Workforce Committee where the CTA could be voted on as early as this coming week.

If passed, CTA would overturn the Higher Education Act’s ban on a student unit-record system, establishing a federal data system containing personally identifiable information (PII) about behavior in postsecondary education (enrollment patterns, progression, completion), post-collegiate outcomes (employment and earnings), and financial aid. This means that simply by enrolling in higher education, a student would be submitting – without notice or consent – to lifetime government tracking of his or her college, career, and financial trajectory.

Not only would CTA enable the Administrative State to compile a massive dossier on every American who enrolls in college, but it would require sharing this data among multiple federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid; the Departments of Treasury, Defense, and Veterans Affairs; the Social Security Administration; and the Census Bureau. (More may be added.) So an individual’s PII can be linked to his tax information, his military information, his Social Security records, and everything the Census knows about him. There are no limits on the purposes for which this data-matching can be used.

Although collection of some sensitive data is currently prohibited, the Commissioner of Education Statistics is required to periodically review data elements and empowered to add more. Also, there is no specific prohibition against the collection of social-emotional data.

While CTA requires that data given to researchers be de-identified, re-identification is far too simple when there are so many data points in the system. Moreover, the data collected isn’t well protected under the bill: CTA mentions data security but requires no security audits, encryption, or protocols for detection and notification of breaches. And federal agencies have been notorious for data breaches.

The Administrative State’s recent violation of procedures to protect federally held data on American citizens should raise a red flag on any legislation that aims to expand its access. If either candidate is serious about his promises to drain the swamp and restore local control of education, they should publicly oppose such Orwellian measures. This isn’t China– this is the United States of America.

When you see Reps. Messer and Rokita out on the campaign trail, demand that they vote against the College Transparency Act and protect the American people from Big Brother legislation. We must also flood congressional offices with calls, starting Monday morning. Please distribute this information to your networks and ask people to call their members of Congress, particularly those on the House Education and the Workforce Committee  (see here).    The number for Congress is 202.224.3121. 



Comments (2)

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  1. Bob Montgomery says:

    Just wondering what good it will do to try to stop something like data collection when Common Core was supposed to be stopped three years ago and they’re still teaching it? Still using CC texts, still using CC teaching methods and the kids still bringing home math homework that involves ten steps to solve a simple addition problem. If our own state legislature and executive branch won’t do the right thing and insure CC is eradicated for real and not just in name only, should we expect that the US Congress is going to give a fig about our children’s privacy, or ours?
    Don’t want social and emotional data collected? How about kicking the “social and emotional” regimens out of our primary schools and the “emotional” pushes out all together? After all the hullaballoo and misdirection and faux correction of the last 5-6 years, Johnny still can’t read.

    • Erin Tuttle says:

      No one understands your frustration as well us here at Hoosiers Against Common Core. The disregard for citizen input and allegiance to bureaucrats in D.C. shown by the Indiana Dept. of Ed is indefensible. That being said, politicians running for election tend to do what it takes to win votes. Our effort to defeat the College Transparency Act could be successful if we make it an election issue.

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