Burr, Foxx Again Call Out Department of Education for Its Lack of Cooperation on Facebook Student Data Privacy Leak

Members: Conversations with Department staff have been obstructive, stalling, or potentially dishonest.

May 20, 2022

Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), and Representative Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, sent a follow-up letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona after the Department failed to respond to an initial requestdemanding accountability on the alarming breach of security and privacy violations of prospective college students. Today’s letter is the second attempt by Senator Burr and Representative Foxx to get clarity on these concerning reports.

According to recent reports, the Department of Education used Facebook’s “Meta Pixel” analytical code to collect data from individuals, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, and zip codes, from individuals applying for federal student aid through the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and  sharing that information with Facebook. 

In their follow-up letter, Senator Burr and Representative Foxx criticized the Department for being obstructive and unwilling to share pertinent information with Committee staff.

“You have failed to respond to our letter,” wrote the members. “Further, conversations with Department staff have been obstructive, stalling, or potentially dishonest.

“[Federal Student Aid] Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray has had no problem telling the press what happened and the extent of the leak.  Yet your staff continues to delay providing a detailed response to our specific questions.

“This leads us to the conclusion that your agency is trying to hide something and hoping this issue fades away or, despite comments to the press about the leak not providing sensitive information, is more severe than stated by the Department,” continued the members. “To say this has increased our concerns about your willingness to work with us to protect the privacy of students and taxpayers is an understatement.”

To read the full letter, click here.

To read the initial letter sent by Senator Burr and Representative Foxx on May 9, 2022, click here.