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For Immediate Release
January 13, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT WITH STUDENT SURVEY COMPANY THAT SHARED INFORMATION WITH MARKETERS


Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection Division together with those of 41 other states have entered into a consumer protection settlement with National Research Center for College and University Admissions ("NRCCUA") concerning that company’s collection of personal information through high school student surveys.


The states alleged that NRCCUA represented or implied that the information it collected from high school students was shared only with colleges, universities and other entities providing education-related services when, in fact, NRCCUA shared the information with commercial entities that used the information to solicit the students for the sale of educational and non-educational commercial products or services.

NRCCUA, a not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, surveys and collects information from hundreds of thousands of high school students each year. In 2001, it collected personal information from more than 2 million high school students who completed its surveys.

NRCCUA and similar organizations provide surveys to U.S. high school teachers and guidance counselors and request that they be given to students to complete. Students may also complete the survey on-line via the Internet. The NRCCUA surveys ask students for personal information, such as name, address, gender, grade point average, date of birth, academic and occupational interests, racial or ethnic background, and, in the event the student is interested in attending a college with a religious affiliation, the denomination of their choice.

The settlement requires NRCCUA:

  • Not to misrepresent how personally-identifiable information will be collected, used or disclosed, or how the collection of the information is funded.
  • To disclose clearly and conspicuously why it collects personal information of students and the types of entities to which it is disclosed.
  • To make such disclosures in all of its privacy statements and in all questionnaires, survey instruments, and other documents.
  • To cease all future use of survey data collected from a student if a parent (in the case of a minor) or an adult high school student requests that the student be opted-out of completing the survey or that NRCCUA cease using previously collected information.
  • If NRCCUA changes its current practice and, once again, chooses to use or permits others to use its survey data for non-educational-related marketing purposes, then NRCCUA must supply schools with a notice form to be given to parents telling them the survey may be administered and how to opt their student-children out of completing the survey.


NRCCUA did not admit any violations in settling the matter but agreed to change its practices as required by the settlement. The company stated that it had ceased permitting use of the student data for non-educational-related marketing purposes in 2002.

Attorney General Curran said that parents of high school and junior high school students should be aware that their children may be asked to complete surveys like those of NRCCUA and others. "Federal law allows parents to tell schools not to give certain surveys to their children," Curran said. "We want parents to be aware of that right and to let schools know that they don’t want their children to be given surveys like this, if that is their choice." Curran also said that the same right to opt out of completing the surveys is given to high school students aged 18 and older.

As part of the settlement, NRCCUA will make a payment of $300,000 to the states, of which $10,000 will be paid to Maryland. The 42 states joining the settlement are: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, ID, IL, IA, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NJ, NY, NV, NC, ND, NM, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY.

 

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