Washington Summit on Protecting Student Data Draws Policy and Industry Heavyweights

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to headline a diverse group of educators, industry leaders, and policymakers at the Pew Center

Common Sense Media
Monday, February 24, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Common Sense Media, in partnership with The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, will convene a half-day School Privacy Zone summit on Monday, February 24, 2014, to discuss effective ways to safeguard student privacy in schools that use education technology for teaching and learning. The summit will take place at the Pew Conference Center in Washington, D.C., from 12 to 4:30 pm.

"At Common Sense Media, we believe that education technology, used wisely, has the potential to transform learning for all children. At the same time, critical to maximizing the benefits of technology in schools is protecting each student's private information," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. "This summit is a rare opportunity to bring together educators who are on the front lines of integrating important technology into our schools and districts nationwide with the companies who are making it and the leading policymakers who create guidelines around how best to use it."

In addition to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a broad array of stakeholders will join the discussion, including Senator Edward J. Markey; Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill; Joel Klein, CEO of Amplify and former chancellor of the NYC Department of Education; Cameron Evans, CTO of U.S. Education at Microsoft; Katherine Varker, Associate General Counsel, McGraw-Hill Education; Dr. Terry Grier, superintendent, Houston Independent School District; Professor Joel Reidenberg, visiting professor of IT policy at Princeton University; and others.

The discussion will focus on principles and practices around the types of technology currently used by schools and districts, the kind of student information that is collected, and the benefits and risks to collecting such data along with the role of schools and technology providers in safeguarding it. The summit also will feature a conversation with policymakers on legislative, regulatory, and other efforts to safeguard students' privacy rights.

As America's schools move increasingly to rely on online platforms, mobile technologies, and cloud computing to enhance and personalize student learning, large amounts of sensitive data are collected, shared, used, and stored. A recent poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group for Common Sense Media revealed deep concern among a majority of Americans about how private companies with noneducational interests may access and use this data.

Legislation is being considered in several states, including California, where State Senator Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg has introduced a measure to prohibit K-12 online educational sites, services, and apps from using students' personal information for non-school purposes. Other states including Virginia, Kentucky, and New York are considering measures to address the concerns of parents, and Senator Edward Markey is among federal lawmakers taking on this issue.

The School Privacy Zone summit will seek to affirm support for connected classrooms that respect and safeguard student privacy, using three fundamental principles outlined by Common Sense Media at the launch of its School Privacy Zone campaign at the end of 2013.

About Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to www.commonsensemedia.org.

About The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands

The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, which operates The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, is an independent 501(c)(3). The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands hosts high-level retreats that address serious issues facing the nation and the world, including the recent official meeting between President Obama and President Xi of the People's Republic of China. In addition, Sunnylands offers programs through the Sunnylands Center & Gardens to educate the public about the history of Sunnylands, its architecture, art collections, cultural significance, and sustainable practices. More information may be found online at www.sunnylands.org.

Press contact:

Crista Sumanik (onsite)


[email protected]

Alexis Vanni


[email protected]