As identity theft has grown over the years, law enforcement officials and policymakers have had to break the crime into subgroups based on what type of information was stolen and used, and who the intended victims are.
One of the increasingly prevalent forms of identity theft, child identity theft, is particularly upsetting due to its long-term potential and the lack of preventive steps available to the victim. When child identity theft first became a widely recognized crime, the typical culprit was someone within the child’s family or close circle of family friends; to be honest, this typical individual is still a very serious threat. No one wants to envision a non-custodial parent or an aunt stealing a child’s identity and amassing years’ worth of insurmountable debt, but that is often the reality.
However, the very conditions that make a child’s identity so tempting to someone close to him—namely, the unblemished credit report and the likelihood that the child’s family won’t discover the crime for years to come—have made organized cybercriminals sit up and take notice. Children have been the victims (both intentionally and accidentally) in a number of data breaches in recent years, many of them happening through compromised school databases, hacked toy retailers’ websites, and even social media platforms that cater to kids unintentionally setting up their database incorrectly and exposing children’s information.
Now, state governments around the country are taking action to protect students’ privacy. Thirty-one states have introduced more than ninety different pieces of legislation to help safeguard student data, set restrictions and guidelines on what can be gathered, and determine how that data must be stored in order to prevent intentional or accidental data breaches.
Some of the laws that have already passed only go so far as to establish a committee to investigate the current practices on gathering personal data on minors, but even that is a huge step towards establishing the regulations. Other states’ legislation, like Utah’s Student Data Protection Act, actually determine how data will be gathered and stored, among other practices.
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