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This Week in Student Privacy: 11/11

Harvard Reveals Secret Classroom Attendance Study
Last week, Harvard University “revealed that it secretly photographed some 2,000 students in 10 lecture halls last spring as part of a study of classroom attendance.” Harvard intended the study to benefit professors by providing them with feedback. However, the admission has “prompted criticism from faculty and students who said the research was an invasion of privacy,” especially due to the fact that it has “[come] to light about a year-and-a-half after revelations that administrators had secretly searched thousands of Harvard e-mail accounts.” For more information on this story, visit The Harvard Crimson, The New York Times, or Tech Times.

Student Privacy Pledge Gains New Signatories
Ed tech companies Promethean and Triumph Learning recently signed the Student Privacy Pledge, joining several big name ed tech companies such as Microsoft in an effort to protect student privacy. For more information on this story, visit Herald Online and PRWeb.

Misuse of Personal Technology Being Investigated at New Hampshire High School
Exeter, New Hampshire “school officials are looking into what they called a serious situation at [Exeter Union High School] involving several students and personal technology.” Though “few details have been released,” Exeter Police Chief Richard Kane said “the students are accused of sharing inappropriate photos” through social media, according to WCVB Boston.

Additional Articles/Resources

  • Inside Higher Ed’s Tracy Mitrano wrote a piece on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “principles for free internet” and privacy.
  • The Pittsburgh Business Times reported on Carnegie Mellon University’s “new online report card” Privacy Grade which measures Smartphone app safety. The website enables “users to see which apps are safe to use and which may be sharing information such as a user's location or contact list without alerting the user.”
  • The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported that an “eighth grader could face trouble after city police said he threatened another student in a social media post that featured pictures of what turned out to be a BB gun.”
  • CSO’s Taylor Armerding wrote an article on parents’ general lack of knowledge about student data collection, sharing insights from multiple experts including Berkman Center for Internet & Society Fellow Bruce Schneier.
  • takepart’s Liz Dwyer wrote a piece on the ethical implications of student monitoring. The article references recent examples of questionable student surveillance, such as the Harvard attendance study and the Huntsville, Alabama School District’s social media monitoring policy.

This update was compiled by Hannah Offer. Hannah is a senior at the Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences and a research assistant for the Student Privacy Initiative.

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Student Privacy Initiative

The Student Privacy Initiative-- part of the Center's growing suite of Privacy Initiatives-- aims to surface, identify, and evaluate central privacy issues and opportunities that…