28 laws in 15 states and 186 bills in 47 states….big numbers…all concerned with one topic, and no these laws and bills are not related to any issue made popular by a political campaign, the numbers refer to laws and bills written to protect student data privacy. It appears that not only did the conversation continue through 2015 but it was discussed outside of what I fondly call my “privacy geek” friends.
What made student privacy so prominent in 2015? Certainly the increased use of technology in the classroom made parents aware that their children’s information is being collected and used by different systems throughout the school districts. In 2014, EdTech funding increased by 55% and showed no signs of slowing down as 2015 came to an end. The use of MOOC’s increased and more and more students used Google Apps for Education in schools. All of this activity certainly brought an increased awareness that our little moppets’ personal information is being collected and stored in multiple systems.
We also discussed a project called LearnSphere meant to help educators understand student learning “better”…. fascinating if we can figure that one out but even more interesting was the fact that the project claims that the student data collected and used is de-identified and focuses on maintaining student anonymity.
Student Privacy was prevalent enough that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an FTC complaint against Google arguing that the company was in violation of the Student Privacy Pledge. Noteworthy that the Student Privacy Pledge (200 signatories strong) proved to be a viable enforcement mechanism, which the EFF used to file their complaint….so there’s that. You can read the EFF complaint here and the Future of Privacy’s response to the complaint here.
At the federal level we had the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) but it was kinda disappointing (ok, very disappointing) to see that it failed to include significant protections relating to student data privacy. Especially considering that FERPA is well, you know, in its fourth decade and counting without any touchups…..
And closing the year strong, because we all needed to feel better about the toys our kids play with, big toy manufacturers had major data breaches. Not exactly the holiday present we were all waiting for. And as problematic as the breaches present, on many different levels, it brings parents, advocates and tech companies back to the table to continue discussing the issues surrounding the collection of data from minors.
2016 promises to be an interesting year. After all, kids will increasingly use technology at home and in schools. Even my 3 year old picks up a phone and pretends to receive and send emails. Technology is going to continue to increase its presence in all facets of our lives. Student data privacy will and should continue to be discussed so that we can protect kids’ information as much as we can. And maybe, 2016 is the year we finally stop talking about inBloom….wishful thinking.
Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year full of peace, good fortune and of course, privacy!