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Your Preschooler Is a Tech Whiz, but Is Her Data Safe?

Common Sense Kids Action supports extending protections offered by SOPIPA to preschools and pre-K.

Are you ever surprised when toddlers have a better mastery of technology than adults? Our rapidly changing world has made it so technology and media use begins at an increasingly younger age. In fact, according to Common Sense Media's study, Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America, half of all children age 0 to 8 had used mobile apps in 2013, up from 16 percent in 2011. The report says that the most frequently used apps for this age group were educational games (43 percent).

It should come as no surprise that the benefits of education technology are being harnessed by preschools and pre-kindergartens. Early education settings increasingly integrate tablets in the classroom and use cloud-computing services to enrich student education and improve academic operations. But what about the risks?

In 2014, California became a national leader on student privacy protections with the unanimous passage of SB 1177, known as the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA). SOPIPA went into effect on January 1, 2016, and ensures the privacy and security of personal information and educational records for children from kindergarten through high school.

While SOPIPA protects K–12 student privacy, there is still work to do to protect California's younger kids in their educational environments. That's why Common Sense Kids Action has sponsored Assembly Bill (AB) 2799, the Early Learning Privacy Information Protection Act (ELPIPA), authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau. This bill has also received the Common Sense Legislative Ratings "For Kids" designation.

ELPIPA extends the protections offered by SOPIPA to preschools and pre-kindergartens. ELPIPA imposes requirements directly on websites, online services, and mobile apps that are designed, marketed, and used primarily for preschool and pre-kindergarten purposes. The bill:

  • Prohibits using children's personal information for targeted advertising
  • Prohibits using children's personal information for profiling (except for school purposes)
  • Prohibits selling children's personal information
  • Prohibits disclosing children's personal information (with limited exceptions to permit site functionality or as required by law)
  • Requires reasonable data security for children's information
  • Requires companies to delete children's information upon the school's request

Preschools and pre-kindergartens should be safe havens for learning and benefit from the same privacy protections for children as California's K–12 schools.

Briana Calleros
Briana Calleros is Common Sense Kids Action's Policy Associate for California. She joined Kids Action in 2015 from the California Institute for Federal Policy Research in Washington D.C., where she served as legislative director. Prior to that, she staffed legislation that was signed into law as a California capitol fellow in Senator Marty Block's office. Briana began her career in policy as an intern with National Council of La Raza and a summer associate at the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. She graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College in 2012.