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This Week in Student Privacy: 12/9

New Google Products in the Works for Kids & Tweens
According to USA Today’s profile of Pavni Diwanji, Google’s Vice President of engineering, “beginning next year [Google] plans to create specific versions of its most popular products for those 12 and younger.” Probable “candidates are those that are already popular with a broad age group, such as search, YouTube and Chrome.” Diwanji said she “‘expect[s] this [effort] to be controversial,’” but since “‘kids already have the technology in schools and at home...the better approach is to simply see to it that the tech is used in a better way.’" USA Today’s profile of Diwanji touched on potential controversies surrounding the program, such as the fact that “traditionally kids younger than 13 have been off limits” as target markets to tech companies. Diwanji said “she understands those concerns, but [added] that as a parent she ‘is a big believer in coaching moments for kids, rather than just blocking what they can do.’" Developing products for the under 13 crowd must be done in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which “set[s] forth [heightened] privacy standards and obligations for online service providers that either target children or knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13.” According to CNN Money, “A Google spokesperson declined to comment further, but confirmed that the USA Today report was accurate.”

Online Breach at Pueblo City Schools Allows Students to Access Classmates’ Personal Information
Last week, an anonymous high school student in the Pueblo City (Colorado) Schools showed a local news outlet “how easy it was” for students “to access the district-managed Infinite Campus online accounts of their classmates.” Students could view such information as their classmates’ “grades, attendance records . . . immunization records, grade-point averages, home addresses, telephone numbers . . . and assessment scores.” In response to the breach, district officials “required high school students to change their portal passwords.” One district official described the problem with the unauthorized access as “‘a student behavioral issue’” rather than a “‘defect in the system.’”

Additional Articles/Resources

  • Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute and former member of inBloom’s board of directors, wrote an article for Forbes about the lessons we can glean from inBloom’s demise “for [future] innovation in education.”
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Steve Kolowich wrote an article about MOOCs, and whether the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) applies to enrollees in online courses through services such as Coursera and edX.
  • Brenda Leong and Jules Polonetsky of the Future of Privacy Forum wrote an article for EdSurge offering suggestions of what should be included in ed tech providers’ privacy policies.
  • Minnesota's ABC5 News published a story about “privacy concerns” surrounding the new classroom behavior app ClassDojo.
  • The News-Gazette (Champlain, Illinois) published a piece on the “growing challenge” students’ behavior on Twitter poses for school officials, and how different schools and districts react to ‘inappropriate’ and disruptive behavior online.
  • U.S. News and World Report published a piece outlining lessons about children’s reading habits gleaned from data collected from Accelerated Reader, a program used by nearly 10 million students in over 30,000 schools across the United States “to track [their] reading outside of the classroom.” To access the actual report, click here.
  • According to The Los Angeles Times, “Los Angeles [Unified] school officials want to give schools more choices in equipping students with new computers.” The “27 schools that were originally set to receive iPads, made by Apple [under Phase 2-B of L.A. Unified’s Common Core Technology Project], now will also have the choice of choosing a less-expensive [Google] Chromebook, which uses a Google operating system.”

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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