Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Schools and Electronic Privacy

Attorney Christopher Librandi recently wrote an editorial entitled, "Electronic Privacy: Do schools have a role to play?"

He notes:

  • Smart phones, tablets, and cloud storage are replacing textbooks and filing cabinets.
  • Most schools use cloud services for record retention and data analysis.
  • The new technology comes with risks to privacy and information security.
  • Only 20% of apps disclose their collection practices to users.
  • "The Center on Law and Information Technology at Fordham found that schools are routinely handing over troves of student information to cloud service providers but that the schools have little knowledge of how that information will be used."
Regarding laws governing privacy of student information, he mentions:
  • COPPA - Children's Online Privacy Protection Act 
  • FERPA - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
His advice to school leaders:

  • ASSEMBLIES: Conduct assemblies for students, faculty, and parents and discuss privacy challenges with each group. Like geo-location. Geo-location tracking is tied to many apps and people should be aware of the "obvious risks inherent in unknown parties following the movements of students."
  • PRIVACY LAWS: Inform all parties of the laws related to privacy and how to find safe apps.
  • CONTRACTS WITH VENDORS: "As a second crucial step, schools should look closely at their vendor contracts to understand what information they are handing over and how the vendor plans to use the information. Has anyone read the vendor's terms and conditions? Do they say anything about use of student information for marketing purposes?"(According to the writer, contract provisions are very important when dealing with software vendors and cloud service providers.)
  • COMPLIANCE WITH PRIVACY LAWS: Do the contracts comply with FERPA and COPPA and other relevant privacy laws? This is a minimum standard.
  • ADMINISTRATOR AND FACULTY TRAINING: Administrators and faculty should have periodic training to keep current on the issues thus making them "valuable resources to parents and students."
Are your school officials knowledgeable about these issues? Are these topics being discussed at Board of Education meetings? Faculty meetings? Are parents and students being kept informed? 

No comments:

Post a Comment