It seems the state of South Carolina wants to ensure it doesn’t fall short of the goals of its economic development agency for lack of workers.
Officials plan to create a “statewide personal information data warehouse” to “track children and funnel them into the workforce.”
The independent South Carolina Policy Council, which opposes the plan, noted it was contained in a budget bill passed by the legislature.
The “warehouse” plan, the council asserted, is “vague, the permissions are sweeping, and the accountability mechanisms are completely absent.”
The council said the main purpose of the data warehouse is to track children and funnel them into the workforce.
The data will be used to “shape policy and funding decisions” on everything from preschool to the workforce and will “link workforce, industry and education data” to meet the goals of the agency.
Lawmakers and their staff would have direct access to the data, which would be managed by “an unaccountable board of government officials,” the council said.
The law was adopted a year ago as part of a process for student testing and rating schools.
It created a universal identification system that will provide the state access to the details on a person, from “preschool to employment.”
Among the subjects will be high-school graduates going to college, high-school grads who get jobs and student achievement.
The plan calls for information to be provided to the database by the Office of First Steps to School Readiness, Department of Education, Department of Social Services, Technical College System, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Commerce, Department of Employment and Workforce, colleges and universities.
“It is important to note that these specific details – the most egregious element of the system – were never presented as a standalone bill that would have gone through the committee process. Instead, they were inserted into the state budget, where they would be hidden from citizens,” the policy council warned.
The plan is for the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office to use the information to meet the goals of the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development.
The policy council, however, suggests that the program might have opened some dangerous doors.
“The scope of possible data collection includes nearly everything. While the data to be collected and tracked primarily consists of education (preschool to college) and workforce/employment, the RFA, Workforce and Education Data Oversight Committee (WEDOC), and CCWD could compel any other state agency to submit information to the warehouse – such as health records, criminal records, entitlement and welfare records, etc. The data could be used to create invasively detailed profiles of nearly every individual in the state.”
Further, there would be no accountability for the data warehouse managers.
The state operation also would be allowed to set up agreements with nearly anyone regarding use of the data – “federal, state, or municipal agency, public institution, or any private individual, partnership, firm, corporation, association.”
“In other words, individuals’ private information could be provided to anyone from the National Security Administration to Google, and nothing in this proviso would protect data from being sold to marketing companies,” the council warned.
“This data warehouse is part of a large, dangerous project that would pose multiple threats with absolutely no discernible benefit. South Carolina politicians are the last people who should be determining the future of children and gathering sensitive personal information for any reason – and definitely not to execute their vision of the economy,” said the warning.