Saturday, April 18, 2015


By smf for 4LAKidsNews

18 April 2015 :: EdWeek reports that a spate of recent laws and policies intended to better protect the privacy of students' sensitive information don't go nearly far enough, according to researchers concerned about commercialization in public education. |

"Computer technology has made it possible to aggregate, collate, analyze, and store massive amounts of information about students," according to a new report from the National Education Policy Center, based at the University of Colorado, in Boulder.

"This has opened opportunities for private vendors to access student information and share it with others. Further, the computerization of student work offers opportunities for companies that provide education technology and educational applications to obtain and pass on to third parties information about students."

The report, titled "ON THE BLOCK: STUDENT DATA AND PRIVACY IN THE DIGITAL AGE” |   is the latest in a series from the NEPC on "schoolhouse commercializing trends." The group has consistently released reports critical of the private sector's role in public education.

“A trifecta of laws passed in California— especially the Student Online and Personal Information and Protection Act, or SOPIPA—were praised by the National Education Policy Council for their expansive definition of the student data to be protected and their restrictions on commercial use of student information.”

BUT THERE IS ALREADY LEGISLATION from $pecail intere$ts in the hopper in Sacramento to limit SOPIPA. To amend it into squishy meaninglessness.

Here are comments from an authority on online student privacy – culled from an email, his first+best appraisal of recent amendments to AB 817, not his last+final word. As a work in process I cloak the writer in anonymity:

“As amended, AB 817 would severely limit SOPIPA by creating broad exemptions to the definition of “K-12 school purposes.

  • These exemptions would leave sensitive student information vulnerable to privacy and security risks.
  • They would mean numerous operators collecting sensitive student information from students in schools are no longer subject to SOPIPA.
  • ·It would also vastly limit the sensitive student “covered information” protected by SOPIPA.

“Our students’ privacy and safety is not served by taking these broad categories of activities and exempting them from SOPIPA. Any app designed to help a student with helping K-12 students outside the classroom—or even standard school hours—could be considered an “extracurricular educational” product. “Enrichment opportunities” could be limitless. The law has not even gone into effect, but already it appears that certain players are looking for loopholes and ways out.

“These exemptions could give companies license to market to our students in schools and eliminate protections California decided to put in place for our students’ sensitive personal information. This is an example of precisely the kinds of results SOPIPA was designed to prohibit. Students deserve the school zone to be a privacy zone, a trusted environment where they can focus on learning.”

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