The Parents Coalition for Student Privacy recently spoke out on student’s personal information being given by schools to private companies.
In a recent speech President Obama used a California law on the topic as a positive nation wide example of how to tackle the problem, however the coalition does not believe that Act does enough.
The Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA) in California bans online operators from knowingly using or disclosing personal information of school aged children, the law includes advertising services.
According to the Parent Coalition’s recent press release, schools have been able to profile students, “based on their learning styles, interests, and academic performances.” This information is then provided to companies that use the information for marketing and advertising.
The Future of Privacy Forum, a DC based organization dedicated to responsible data practices including the protection of online information, has challenged companies to sign their Student Privacy Pledge. The pledge commits companies from selling student information, using data they have for non-educational profiling and tailoring ads towards students from collected educational data. Companies who have already signed include Apple, Microsoft, and Shutterfly . Major online presences, Google has not yet signed the pledge but already has its own privacy precautions in place.
This collection of student data, according to Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parents’ Coalition, brings with it “huge risks”. The coalition stated that the major risk, someone hacking into the student data, could in theory, “undermine a student’s future.” Haimson commented, if this personal information is used for commercial activities she fears “ (students) will get stereotyped… and that will restrict their future prospects.” Haimson said the coalition is calling for “parents rights to consent and opt out.”
After viewing the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, President Obama used the law as a nation wide example of how to protect student privacy. On the other hand The Coalition feels that the California law does not come close enough to the security protection necessary for their students.
In another statement from Leonie Haimson, she argues, “we owe it to our children to require security provisions at least as strict as in the case of personal health information.”