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Originally posted on the EFF website:
“They are collecting and storing data to be used against my child in the future, creating a profile before he can intellectually understand the consequences of his searches and digital behavior.”
This was the response of one parent to an online survey EFF conducted to learn more about the use of mobile devices and cloud services in K-12 classrooms across the country—so called education technology or “ed tech.” Today, EFF released a report entitled “Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy” that summarizes the results of this survey.
While there are educational advantages to incorporating technology into the classroom experience, the survey results reflect an overarching concern that children as young as kindergartners are being conditioned to accept a culture of surveillance. EFF maintains that children should not be taught that using the Internet or technology requires sacrificing personal privacy.
The survey, launched in December 2015, elicited responses from over 1000 students, parents, teachers, librarians, school administrators, system administrators, and community members.
We organized the survey results into eight themes:
A goal of the “Spying on Students” survey was to highlight the struggles of average people trying to navigate the student privacy issue. So throughout the discussion of the survey results, we present the case studies of a parent, technology director, system administrator, and school librarian.
In addition to summarizing the survey results, the “Spying on Students” report includes an overview of relevant student privacy laws, including the federal laws FERPA and COPPA, and a sampling of state laws from California, Colorado, and Connecticut.
The report also discusses the inadequacy of the leading ed tech industry self-regulatory effort, the Student Privacy Pledge.
Finally, the report includes privacy recommendations and best practices for school/district administrators, teachers, librarians, system administrators, parents, students, and—of course—ed tech companies.
Today’s report is part of our larger student privacy campaign, which aims to educate students, parents, and school officials about digital privacy—and to encourage ed tech companies to institute better privacy policies and practices that actually protect the privacy of minor students, while enabling them to benefit from technology in the classroom.
With the right awareness and will—particularly from an $8 billion dollar industry—technology can be both educationally beneficial and privacy protective.