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Assemblyman Gatto: law needed to restrict government data collection

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Burbank-area Assemblyman Mike Gatto is warning that school districts and other local government agencies should be curbed in what kinds of private information they keep on residents - and for how long.

He was motivated by the Glendale Unified School District's decision last year to contract Geo Listening, a private tech company, to police students’ social media accounts to head off bullying or other violence. He said people should be worried about that kind of data collection.

“Ten years later that data is hacked - or 20 years later someone uses that data to prevent someone from getting a job,” he said.

Gatto has proposed a bill that would require local agencies to destroy data when it’s no longer necessary.

Glendale Unified Superintendent Dick Sheehan said the bill wouldn't affect his program.

“We purposely do not store anything, so we receive the information, we act on it and we move on,” he said.

“The company monitors public web sites,” said school board vice president Mary Boger.

“If a student has a private FaceBook page or is using privacy in their public postings, they are not going to be noticed by this company.”

Gatto says even that is worrisome. He asks: what if a student later decides to delete the profile?

Gatto’s bill would also compel school districts and other local agencies notify people of what data they’re collecting.