Personal Privacy in an Information Society. The Individual Under the Family Educationalrights And Privacy Act

07/12/1997

In spite of the limited and rather uneven implementation experience to date, the Commission was able to draw some reasonably reliable conclusions about the degree to which practices under FERPA meet the Commission's recommended public-policy objectives. The concerns expressed in its objectives are precisely those that led to the passage of FERPA: namely, minimizing intrusiveness; keeping recorded information from being a source of unfairness in decisions made on the basis of it; and establishing a legitimate, enforceable expectation of confidentiality. The complaints and abuses documented by parent and student groups, and the guidelines from the two Russell Sage studies cited above, also centered on these three objectives.

The statute, however, does not fully achieve the Commission's three objectives. There are significant gaps in its coverage of institutions and types of records, and the enforcement mechanisms it relies on are too weak to support its strategy of enforced self-regulation.