By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki
Student privacy is a growing issue, as more and more data is being gathered on K-12 students. The intent of thIs data acquisition is generally worthwhile. The primary purpose is to obtain more knowledge about student achievement and learning styles, and to support individualized instruction. The goal is to allow students to learn at their own pace.
There are, however, potential risks, since such data is being held in databases distributed on computers owned by school districts, or by state governments, or increasingly, by private companies and organizations. In some cases this data is being loaded into cloud computing resources owned by third parties.
The California state legislature has proposed the most comprehensive law ever to safeguard student information. The proposed law, titled the “Student Online Personal Information Protection Act”, awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature. The bill “requires operators of K-12 online sites, services, and applications to keep student personal information private. Under the bill, online operators can only use student personal information for school purposes; including adaptive and personalized student learning. The bill prohibits operators of K-12 online sites, services, and applications from selling student personal information to third parties, like advertisers.” (This quotation is from SOPIPA Fact Sheet available at:
“It’s a landmark bill in that it’s the first of its kind in the country to put the onus on Internet companies to do the right thing,” said Senator Darrell Steinberg, the California state senator who wrote the bill.
“Legislators in the state passed a law last month prohibiting educational sites, apps and cloud services used by schools from selling or disclosing personal information about students from kindergarten through high school; from using the children’s data to market to them; and from compiling dossiers on them. The law is a response to growing parental concern that sensitive information about children — like data about learning disabilities, disciplinary problems or family trauma — might be disseminated and disclosed, potentially hampering college or career prospects. Although other states have enacted limited restrictions on such data, California’s law is the most wide-ranging.” – NY Times blog of September 15th
A majority of states in the U.S. have implemented, or are considering, various forms of student privacy legislation to prevent disclosure and commercial use of student data outside of the school context. The federal legislation currently on the books is now four decades old, and not suited to the modern era of mobile devices, social media, cloud computing, and Big Data (massive databases).
OUR COMMITMENT TO CHILDREN’S PRIVACY
Protecting the privacy of young children is especially important. For that reason, Curriki does not knowingly collect or maintain personally identifiable information on the Curriki Site from persons under 13 years-of-age. If Curriki learns that personally-identifiable information of persons less than 13-years-of-age has been collected on Curriki without verifiable parental consent, then Curriki will take the appropriate steps to delete this information. If you are a parent or guardian and discover that your child under the age of 13 has obtained a Curriki Site account, then you may alert Curriki at Webmaster@curriki.org and request that Curriki delete that child’s personal information from its systems.
We’d love to hear your comments. Where do you stand on this student privacy issue? How can we implement Big Data technology in schools so as to gain the benefits of better student learning outcomes, but without compromising personal data?