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This Week in Student Privacy: 1/13

President Obama Plans to Better Protect Americans’ Cyber Security & Privacy
President Obama “unveiled legislation to help protect consumers and students against cyberattacks” on Monday, January 12, 2015, during a visit to the Federal Trade Commission. As a key part of his plan, Obama revealed the Student Digital Privacy Act, “which would prohibit technology firms from profiting from information collected in schools as teachers adopt tablets, online services and Internet-connected software.” The Student Digital Privacy Act “is modeled after California’s Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA),” passed in September of last year. Obama’s legislative proposals come “a month after the most high-profile hacking attack on a U.S. company,” Sony Pictures, reportedly at the hands of the North Korean government. The White House released a press release/fact sheet on Obama’s proposed legislation, which can be found here. For more on this story, visit The Guardian and NPR.

Student Privacy Pledge Gains New Signatory
Ed tech company InfoSnap®, Inc., “the nation’s leading provider of cloud-based registration management solutions” for pre-kindergarten, elementary, and secondary schools, recently signed the Student Privacy Pledge, joining several big name ed tech companies such as Microsoft in an effort to protect student privacy.

Wayzata, Minnesota Student Struggles with Digital Privacy at School
Nathan Ringo, a student from Wayzata, Minnesota, recently wrote “a first-person account of an ongoing digital privacy tussle with his school that was published in the popular online magazine BoingBoing.” Ringo, a self-proclaimed “advocate of free speech,” recounts his efforts to evade his school’s “spyware” and “censorware”. Ringo’s piece exemplifies “the raging national debate about the implications — ranging from commercial retention and use of student data to overreach in censorship — of increased use of technology in the classroom.”

Additional Articles/Resources

  • JD Supra published a summary of recent privacy bills passed in California, “rang[ing] in scope from invasion of privacy and distribution of sexually explicit materials to student privacy and Internet privacy for minors.” For more information on California privacy legislation, click here.
  • eSchool News published a piece outlining a New Hampshire legislator’s plan “to bar colleges and public schools from requiring students to provide access to personal social media accounts.”
  • Caitlin Emma of Politico’s Morning Education said in 2015 “the push for student data privacy will ramp up.”
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio overturned a long-standing ban on students’ using cellphones in New York City public schools.
  • The law firm DLA Piper published a resource titled “New student data privacy laws: top points for school contractors and K-12 education sites, apps and online services.” The report summarizes the potential implications of newly enacted student privacy legislation throughout the U.S. for ed tech companies and schools.
  • Natasha Singer of The New York Times wrote a piece about investors’ attraction to the ed tech sector, despite the fact that the industry “is chock-full of fledgling companies whose innovative ideas have not yet proved effective — or profitable.”

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… More