Why education tech needs to get student privacy right
Share Now on:
Like everything else these days, education runs on data. Our kids’ data.
Every digital move they make in school, on homework websites, and apps can be tracked. And it’s not always clear where that information is going or how companies are using it.
Parents want better protections; the multi-billion dollar education technology industry wants to keep growing.
So today some big name ed-tech providers announced a voluntary privacy pledge. It says ed tech companies won’t sell a kid’s data. They won’t use it to target specific ads to specific kids.
“We are aware that policy makers and education leaders and parents are looking at this issue,” said Mark Schneiderman with the Software & Information Industry Association, “this is the industry effort to show that industry is aware of those questions.”
At least part of the industry.
Microsoft, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Amplify and several other companies have signed the pledge. Notably absent on the list are classroom giants like Google, Apple and Pearson.
“Thankfully for Houghton Mifflin, we’ve been 100% in alignment with the pledge and all the different parts inside the pledge document,” said Bill Bowman, Vice President of Information Security for the education company.
Same story for Amplify—and the rest of the pledges. They’re already doing all these things.
So what’s the point?
“You can look at this glass half full, or glass half empty,” said Joni Lupovitz, Vice President of Policy for the advocacy group Common Sense Media.
She says its good for an industry to adopt a list of best practices. It might pressure ed-tech companies that aren’t protecting student data to do more.
There’s also the glass half empty bit. “A lot of this they will be required to do under California law,” said Lupovitz “And, it’s a private pledge, it doesn’t have the same teeth or enforcement.”
Lupovitz the industry needs the trust of parents and teachers.
It’s the only way to keep the booming industry booming and bring the real promise of tech to the classroom.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.