November 11, 2014

With data privacy concerns on the rise, more than 40 ed-tech companies have signed a “Student Privacy Pledge” promising to collect and use student information responsibly.

 

Led by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association, the pledge aims to “enhance the trust between families, schools, and third-party service providers,” said Jules Polonetsky, FPF’s executive director, in a press release.

 

Ed-tech companies signing the pledge say they will…

 

• Never sell student information or target ads based on student behavior.

• Use student data only for authorized educational purposes.

• Not change their data privacy policies without giving stakeholders notice and choice.

• Enforce strict limits on the retention of student data.

• Allow parents to access, and correct errors in, their children’s information.

• Maintain comprehensive data security standards.

• Be transparent about how they collect and use student data.

 

The pledge comes six months after the high-profile demise of inBloom, a controversial nonprofit organization that intended to build a national, cloud-based student data system to improve education.

 

Amid an onslaught of criticism from parents and data privacy advocates, states that had signed agreements with inBloom began to pull out of the initiative last year, and the group shut its doors in April.

 

As school leaders turn to ed-tech companies for help in collecting and storing student data in the cloud, data privacy advocates worry about what will happen to this information—and whether it might be used for marketing purposes.

 

As of mid-November, more than 40 ed-tech companies had signed the Student Privacy Pledge, including Microsoft, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Follett. 

 

A complete list of companies signing the pledge is available here; are your ed-tech service providers on the list?

 

 

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