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Big win for advocates as New York State names chief privacy officer

MaryEllen Elia
MaryEllen Elia
Stephanie Snyder/Chalkbeat

Student privacy advocates finally have the data security czar they’ve been demanding.

The New York State Education Department on Wednesday appointed Temitope Akinyemi as chief privacy officer. She will be responsible for investigating security breaches and recommending privacy standards.

Akinyemi comes from the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, where she served as a privacy officer and an attorney for more than five years. She will begin her new post on Sept. 22.

“It is imperative that confidential data shared by parents, educators and students is kept just that — confidential,” Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement.

Akinyemi’s appointment was required under state law championed by privacy advocates like Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters and co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

“Now the real work begins,” Haimson said. “We have many, many concerns about the way data is currently being used by the state, by the schools and by vendors who see this as a gold mine.”

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