Interesting Policy Reads: Coronavirus, Failed Facial Recognition on Campus Proposal, and State Data Privacy Laws

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This post includes articles regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education, facial recognition on campus, new docket activity on net neutrality, and data on distance education.

With our "Interesting Policy Reads" blog posts, the EDUCAUSE Policy Office highlights recent articles on federal policy issues and developments that are directly relevant to members or provide insights on higher education policy in general.

  • India Opens the Door Wide for Online Learning, Inside Higher Ed, February 17, 2020. (India's government has started to lift restrictions on online learning as part of a push to widen access to higher education and raise the profile of Indian institutions globally.)
  • AG Barr Takes Aim at a Key Legal Protection for Big Tech Companies, CNBC, February 19, 2020. (William Barr convened a workshop to discuss Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides protection from legal liability to tech companies for content posted by third-party users. Barr called into question whether the protections are still necessary for tech giants.)
  • Facial Recognition Surveillance on Campus, Inside Higher Ed, February 21, 2020. (The University of California, Los Angeles, was the first higher education institution to openly propose and subsequently drop the proposal to use of facial recognition software on campus after opposition advocacy groups criticized the efficacy and safety of such programs, but there are worries that other schools may not be as open about their plans to use such technology.)
  • Messy Merger Forecast for "McCengage," Inside Higher Ed, February 19, 2020. (Publishing companies Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education hoped to wrap up merger plans by the end of March, but fierce opposition, fast-changing publishing environments, and challenging negotiations have set this goal behind schedule.)
  • Google's Education Tech Has a Privacy Problem, Vox, February 21, 2020. (The attorney general of New Mexico is suing Google, accusing them of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The suit focuses on what data Google is collecting on the students and how the company is using it.)
  • Coronavirus Forces Universities Online, Inside Higher Ed, February 25, 2020. (Students at Chinese branches of US universities are attending their classes online after the rapid spread of coronavirus in China. Faculty at these institutions were quick to adapt to the new style of teaching, and some see this as an opportunity to expand on traditional teaching methods even after the virus worries have gone.)
  • FCC Net Neutrality Docket Heats Up…Again, Broadcasting and Cable, February 21, 2020. (The Federal Communications Commission received more than three hundred comments in one day after it requested comments on specific issues in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which eliminates network neutrality rules, but most of the comments attacked the rule as a whole.)
  • Improving NYC's Tech Training, Inside Higher Ed, February 25, 2020. (In New York City, the industry that is seeing the most job creation with good pay growth is technology, but the industry must address the gap in diversity between its workforce and the city as a whole.)
  • California Wants DC to Use CCPA as Privacy Law Model, Multichannel News, February 25, 2020. (California Attorney General Xavier Becerra wrote a letter to Congress asking them to look to the states when creating federal privacy legislation. The letter also encouraged Congress to create policy that will be a floor for states to expand on.)
  • New Jersey Lawmakers Push Data-Privacy Bill, The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2020. (New Jersey legislators are proposing a bill that would require companies to obtain permission from consumers before they can collect and sell personal data to third parties. The bill would also require companies to tell consumers how their data will be used.)
  • Drilling into Distance Education Data, Inside Higher Ed, February 27, 2020. (The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements [NC-SARA] has collected data on both in-state students studying online and out-of-state students studying online. The data shows that students still prefer to pick online programs that are located close to home.)

For more information about policy issues impacting higher education IT, please visit the EDUCAUSE Review Policy Spotlight blog as well as the EDUCAUSE Policy web page.

Kathryn Branson is a senior associate with Ulman Public Policy.

© 2020 Kathryn Branson. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.