Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Parents should know school districts' privacy policies and practices

According to the recently published Fordham Law School study, "Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools," parents are concerned about the sharing of private student information. Why?

  • Student data will be sourced in data centers operated by third-party vendors.
  • ...parents worry about the extensive quantity of student data being collected and the access being granted to that data.
  • Is the data being held for an indefinite period of time? 
  • Is the duration of storage outside the control of the school system?
  • What access is being given to third-party vendors for marketing purposes?
  • Services such as email and document sharing that are offered to educational institutions for no financial payment also flag privacy and data security concerns.
  • Re. inBloom, Inc., one parent group has stated, "the plan to share personally identifiable and highly confidential student data in such an unrestricted manner, in an open-ended time frame, without parental notification or consent, is unprecedented in US history, and would violate both FTC and HIPAA protections..."

 The study notes that schools' actual policies and practices overseeing student privacy "remain largely unknown."  
~ Do you, as parents and community members, know your school district's actual privacy policies and practices?
~ Are Board members reporting to the public about such policies/practices/contractual provisions and making the answers "conspicuous"  on the school district's website?
~  Who is representing and protecting your child's privacy? Since parents have been cut out of the picture to a startling level - with no parental notification or consent required for so much data sharing - who is left to protect the sharing, storage, and disclosure of private information about your children?

If ever there was a time for parents to organize and make their voices heard, it is now.

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