Parent Earl MacEnulty was recently on The Stream on Al Jazeera America (@ajam) talking about the theft of his child’s identity since the age of five. As more and more schools move to online systems and the “cloud” to track everything from a student’s performance to behavioral, financial and health records, the security of students’ personal and academic information is at greater risk.
Of course, there are many concerns. One is that highly sensitive student data is not only used by the school district, but shared with third-parties, including for-profit vendors. Suddenly, students could be seeing pop-up ads saying “Struggling with Algebra? Tutors available…” Or worse, the danger that a student’s identity will be stolen, which is becoming increasingly common. According to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, children, 19 and under, made up 6 percent of all identity theft victims in 2012.
According to Diane Ravitch, president of the Network for Public Education, “Since the passage of FERPA in 1974, parents expected that Congress was protecting the confidentiality of information about their children. However, in recent years, the US Department of Education has rewritten the regulations governing FERPA, eviscerating its purpose and allowing outside parties to gain access to data about children that should not be divulged to vendors and other third parties. The Network for Public Education calls on Congress to strengthen FERPA and restore the protection of families’ right to privacy.”
Last week, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy urged Congress to review and strengthen both FERPA and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), to roll back the harmful provisions of the 2009 and 2011 FERPA regulations, and to update both laws in light of new and unforeseen threats to privacy rights. You can read more about this in their letter here.
Do you have concerns about student data privacy or do you believe we’re in an online era where “over sharing” is the norm and there is no privacy?