Thursday, January 28, is Data Privacy Day—a day dedicated to promoting and raising awareness of privacy and data protection around the globe. It commemorates the January 28, 1981 signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. And it’s a great day to take charge of not only your own privacy, but also the privacy of any school children in your life.
We recently launched Spying on Students—an online resource dedicated to helping students, parents, teachers, and school administrators learn more about the privacy issues surrounding school-issued devices and cloud services. The website—part of our new campaign to promote student privacy—provides useful guides for adjusting privacy settings on mobile devices. It also answers common questions about the legal and technological landscape regarding student privacy and offers suggestions on how you can connect with other concerned parents.
As we reported last week, our student privacy campaign—including the complaint we filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about Google’s unauthorized collection of personal information from school children via Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education (GAFE)—caught the attention of Senator Al Franken, a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. He responded by writing a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking for information about GAFE’s privacy practices.
But for our student privacy campaign to succeed, we need the support of parents. On this Data Privacy Day, take the time to check out the resources we’ve compiled and regain control of your children’s privacy. And spread the word about student privacy by sharing our resources with other parents.
It’s critical that parents understand their, and their children’s, rights—especially in a world where parents may be asked by schools to waive those rights before their youngsters are permitted to use technology in the classroom. We’ve even seen third parties encourage parents to give schools consent to release their children’s information to those very third parties. Recently, in Utah, the United Way of Salt Lake City partnered with other local organizations on a campaign to do just that—i.e., encourage parents to sign forms consenting to the disclosure of student information to outside organizations. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires school to get such parental consent before disclosing student information to third parties. But before signing such a form, parents should know exactly what they are agreeing to, consider all their options, and make informed choices. Ads like the United Way’s—which direct parents to simply sign any consent forms that a school might send home and which are sponsored by third parties rather than the school—inappropriately discourage parents from seeking all the information they need.
As part of our student privacy campaign, we also launched a nationwide survey to collect information from parents and other concerned individuals regarding the practices and disclosure policies of K-12 schools. We’ve heard from hundreds of parents, but we still need help to collect even more useful information about what’s happening on the ground in schools across the country. Join the fight to protect student privacy by filling out our survey today.