A new civil rights lawsuit alleges the College Board has been collecting and selling private student data.
The College Board found itself in the hot-seat late last month when it was hit with a civil rights lawsuit alleging it has been collecting and selling private student data to increase the salaries of its executives. For those who don’t already know, the College Board is the organization behind the SAT. According to the recent suit, it’s estimated that more than five million students have already had their private data sold.
What kind of sensitive information was sold, though? Well, according to the lawsuit, the College Board collected and sold “students’ names, home addresses, gender, ethnicity, grades, citizenship status, religious views, and much more” via a ‘Student Search Survey.’ As a result of its actions, the suit claims the College Board used “unfair and deceptive means” to collect the data. For example, the attorneys representing the case said those deceptive means included “marketing its data-collection scheme as a tool to help students get accepted into a college or university.”
The suit further argues that once the data was collected, the College Board turned around and sold it to third parties without obtaining consent from the students. Just how much did all that data sell for? According to the suit, “the price of the data, per student, was between $0.42 and $0.47.” It’s worth noting that the College Group makes more than $1 billion each year and manages to pay a whopping $1.5 million to the company’s president. Other powerful figures in the company also pull down hefty salaries.
As a result of the College Board’s actions, the lawsuit alleges the students who had their data collected and sold without their knowledge “suffered an invasion of privacy, the deprivation of the right to control and choose how their identities are used, and diminished value to their personal information.” Additionally, the suit includes a handful of different counts, including allegations that the organization “violated the Illinois School Student Records Act, the Right of Publicity Act, the Children’s Privacy Protection and Parental Empowerment Act, and the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.”
The suit itself was filed by Loevy & Loevy, a civil rights law firm. The firm learned of the case when a Chicago parent stepped forward with claims that their child was affected for the College Board’s actions. Now, the firm is seeking nationwide class-action status for the case. If they win the case on behalf of the plaintiffs, experts predict the College Board will have to fork over “enormous damages.”