School Privacy Zone

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Protect Students' Data: Schools Must be Privacy Zones

When students and families provide personal information to schools for educational purposes, that information must be protected from abuse.

Education technology, when used wisely, has the potential to transform learning and open the door to opportunity for any child, anywhere. As our nation's schools embrace the vast potential of educational technology to enhance and personalize learning, they must ensure that students’ personal data is protected. Through online platforms, mobile applications, and cloud computing, schools and education technology providers collect massive amounts of sensitive information about students. Access to and use of these platforms and devices—which are critical to a child’s future success—should not mean sacrificing our children’s privacy. We must ensure that our kids information be kept out of the hands of non-educational, commercial interests and other third parties.

In support of connected classrooms that respect and safeguard student privacy, Common Sense has launched a School Privacy Zone campaign in an effort to initiate a national conversation about this critical issue. It's based on three fundamental principles:

  1. Students' personal information shall be used solely for educational purposes;
  2. Students' personal information or online activity shall not be used to target advertising to students or families; and
  3. Schools and education technology providers shall adopt appropriate data security, retention and destruction policies

For more information on actions states took in 2014 on student privacy and where they're heading now, read our report: Assessing state laws on student privacy in 2014 and Beyond

Convening Key Stakeholders:

On February 24, 2014, Common Sense convened a summit featuring key stakeholders and policymakers, including the Secretary of Education, for a national conversation to explore these principles in an open and constructive dialogue. Here is a recap and video highlights.

What Parents Can do:

Are your students using technology in the classroom to benefit their learning? This can be anything from schools where students use tablets and computers for online testing to educational apps and web-based resources. Ask your school administrators some basic questions about how they are collecting, using, storing and destroying your students' information. Tony Porterfield, a computer engineer and a parent who participated in our summit has some helpful advice for parents here.

Read more about the issue and our School Privacy Zone campaign here:

District Administration
Asking edtech vendors the tough questions

FCC weighs 'Lifeline' for low-income kids without Internet

Portland Tribune
House committee votes to protect student online data

Congressmen urge support for student data privacy bill

Education Week
State Lawmakers Balance Concerns on Student-Data Privacy

High-Tech Hypocrisy

USA Today
Messer pushing for student data privacy protections

Education Week
Common Sense Media to Release Privacy Ratings for Ed-Tech Products

The Baltimore Sun
Governor should veto flawed student privacy bill

Student Data Privacy Advocate, Bill Fitzgerald, to Join Common Sense Media

Education Week
New Federal Student-Data-Privacy Bill Targets Loopholes

Education Week
Messer-Polis Data-Privacy Bill Endorsed by Educator Groups; Industry Wary

New York Times
Franchising a Student Digital Privacy Law

New York Times
Obama to Call for Laws Covering Data Hacking and Student Privacy

Washington Post
More than 70 companies just signed a pledge to protect student data privacy — with some notable exceptions

Associated Press
Obama calls for new laws on data hacking, says tech advances come with privacy risks

APM Marketplace
Why education tech needs to get student privacy right

Capitol Weekly
Guarding students’ online privacy

Education Week
'Landmark' Student-Data-Privacy Law Enacted in California

New York Times
With Tech Taking Over in Schools, Worries Rise

APM Marketplace
A day in the life of a data mined kid

T.H.E. Journal
California Assembly Approves Bill Restricting Companies' Use of Student Data

PC World
Senators want to limit companies' use of student data

Bloomberg EDU
Common Sense Media's Jim Steyer, Reporters Kamenetz, Herold on Big Data, Student Privacy

Can Parents Protect Their Kids’ School-Collected Data?

Government Technology
Can Student Data Improve Learning Without Compromising Privacy?

New York Times
Scrutiny in California for Software in Schools

Protecting the Privacy of Student Data Online

Survey: Students' Personal Data Are At Risk

New York Times
Group Presses for Safeguards on the Personal Data of Schoolchildren

NBC Bay Area
Is Your Child's Private Data in Jeopardy at School?

Huffington Post
Immense Unease Over Advertisers Nabbing Student Data: Poll

Education Week
Americans Worried, Uninformed About Student Data Privacy, Survey Finds

T.H.E. Journal
Concerns over Student Data Privacy Widespread Among Americans

89.3 KPCC
Advocates want to limit uses of student data

Parents want transparency from schools concerning use of student data