Technology

Trade Groups, Tech Firms Pledge to Protect Student Data

By / Oct 9, 2014 (Andersen Ross/ThinkStock)

Some of the biggest players in educational technology have made a commitment to safeguard data about students from kindergarten to high school.

Along with traditional concerns like grades and extracurricular activities, students and parents have a 21st-century problem to worry about: the gathering and use of student data from kindergarden to 12th grade.

To address institutional, parental, and student concerns, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) have created a pledge to protect students from the possible abuses that may arise from the collection of personal data.

We wanted to say to parents: ‘No one’s going to sell your kids’ data; nobody’s going to track your child around the internet.’

The list of pledge signees includes major companies in the education space, such as Microsoft, digital curriculum provider Amplify, and educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, along with 18 others.

Together, they have signed the K-12 School Service Provider Pledge to Safeguard Student Privacy, in which they promise to execute “responsible stewardship and appropriate use of student personal information.”

Among a list of standards, the group wants school service providers to:

  • Not sell student information
  • Not behaviorally target advertising
  • Use data strictly for educational purposes
  • Not change privacy policies without notice or choice
  • Enforce strict limits on data retention

“We introduce this pledge as a clear commitment to safeguard the privacy and security of all student personal information,” SIIA Senior Director of Education Policy Mark Schneiderman said in a statement. “Current law provides extensive restrictions on the use of student information, and this industry pledge will build on and detail that protection to promote even greater confidence in the appropriate use of student data.”

“We wanted to say to parents: ‘No one’s going to sell your kids’ data; nobody’s going to track your child around the internet; no one’s going to compile a profile that is used against your child when they apply for a job 20 years later,'” Jules Polonetsky, FPF’s executive director, told The New York Times.

The value of the pre-K-to-12 nonhardware education technology market has ballooned to $7.9 billion, according to a 2013 study by SIIA. Increasing attention has been paid to possible misuses of data within this growing market. Last month, California lawmakers passed the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, which prevents online educational services from selling student data, using data for targeted ads, and more.

Morgan Little

Morgan Little is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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