Privacy SOS

Section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by permitting educational agencies and institutions to disclose – without the consent or knowledge of the student or parent- personally identifiable information from the student's education records to the Attorney General of the United States or to his designee in response to an order in connection with the investigation or prosecution of terrorism crimes. The school is not required to record such disclosures and has legal immunity from any liability that might arise as a result of the release of the records.

In addition, foreign students now come under the close scrutiny of SEVIS (the Student Exchange Visitor Information System), which was launched in February 2003. It links campuses electronically to the Department of Homeland Security. Information about more than a million foreign students – such as when they drop a course, change their major, move house, are disciplined or take a part-time job – is transmitted instantly to immigration officials. Students are unable to access their files to see if the information contained about them is accurate.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.