Fed Lawsuit: Yes, ACT and College Board Can Sell Your Child’s Data

Yesterday, the news broke that the ACT and College Board had won a federal suit filed against them.

ACT and the College Board won. The kids and parents of America lost.

The lawsuit, Specter v. ACT & College Board,  was filed in Illinois several years back when it was learned that the ACT and College Board were selling personally identifiable information (PII) that was being collected from their tests to third parties and universities.

PII includes, but is not limited to, things like  name, gender, date of birth and social security number.

Government FundraiserOver 1.5 million kids take these tests every year. ACT and College Board were selling their data at a rate between .33 cents and .37 cents each. There are thousands of groups buying this data.

One of the main points of the suit was the fact here was no notification to the test taker or parent that this ‘sharing’ was going on, much less that data was being sold.

Students taking these tests, who are mostly minors under the age of 18, have to affirmatively opt out of the ACT, meaning they have to check ‘yes I want to make my data available’,  whereas the SAT has an Opt-In approach.

The Judge ruled that the plaintiffs failed to make their case showing harm to the students due to the collection and sale of the data.

“A plaintiff’s claim of injury in fact cannot be based solely on a defendant’s gain; it must be based on a plaintiff’s loss. Here, plaintiffs have not alleged that they lost anything of value as a result of the alleged misconduct,” Circuit Judge Michael Kanne said, writing for the three-judge panel. (CourthouseNews)

The Judge also ruled on two other points:

Second, the district court rejected the claimed injury of
diminished value of PII because Plaintiffs failed to “allege
that they have the ability to sell their personal information or
that Defendants’ conduct foreclosed them from entering into
a ‘value for value transaction’ relating to their PII.” Id.

Third, the district court rejected the alleged injury of fees
paid by third parties for Plaintiffs’ PII because “a plaintiff’s
injury must be based on the plaintiff’s loss, not the defendant’s
gain.” Id. at 4. The district court found that the Plaintiffs’
had not alleged that “they suffered an economic loss,
[only] that [Defendants] profited.” Id.

The ruling is linked at CourthouseNews and I also have a copy here.

In a nutshell, the ruling sides with the test companies. This ruling will arguably play into the growing Opt Out movement.

North Carolina uses a wide range of ACT products including ASPIRE, PLAN and WORKKEYS.  I’ve written about these tests before – they are Common Core aligned.

The SAT is also given in our state. Seeing as it as an Opt In mechanism, I don’t think it will come under as much fire at the ACT will.

What will the State Superintendent, June Atkinson, have to say about this ruling?

Given that Atkinson is running for reelection, this question should be put to her.

Related Reading

Also: The Astonishing Amount Of Data Being Collected On Your Child


About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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2 Responses to Fed Lawsuit: Yes, ACT and College Board Can Sell Your Child’s Data

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