To the Editor:
Recent coverage by Education Week makes it clear that two distinct efforts are underway to ensure the safe and appropriate use of student data.
First, politicians in many states are pushing regulatory regimes to secure data largely by placing restrictions on its use. Meanwhile, Internet service providers and educators are creating governance principles and industry commitments to protect data though enhanced standards and accountability. How these two efforts proceed is likely to have a dramatic impact on our students and our nation.
As they modernize through technology, schools are empowered to meet the individualized needs of children, develop more efficient operations, and ensure world-class graduates.
Data is powering this revolution—but with more data comes more risk, making it essential that we assure the effectiveness of current protections: strong existing federal laws; legally binding privacy policies and/or contracts between schools and providers; and industry best practices.
Education technology companies recognize they play a central role in making certain these elements are fully effective. For this reason, in October, leading technology providers released a Pledge to Safeguard Student Privacy.
This commitment provides assurances that companies will use student data only for authorized educational purposes, will not sell data or behaviorally target advertising, will maintain strict security practices, and more. The pledge holds service providers to a high standard while avoiding the one-size-fits-all approach of some regulatory proposals. In doing so, it advances data privacy and security without interfering with the implementation of essential technologies or restricting the opportunities available to schools.
The pledge has drawn praise from parent groups, school boards, and political leaders, all of which are working with service providers to further embrace the pledge.
These leaders and educators recognize that schools must be able to unleash the full potential of data-driven technologies to ensure America’s future competitiveness.
Senior Director of Education Policy
Software & Information Industry Association
Executive Director and Co-Chair
Future of Privacy Forum
A version of this article appeared in the January 07, 2015 edition of Education Week as Pledge Reflects Ed-Tech Leaders’ Concern for Student-Data Privacy