Parents want transparency from schools concerning use of student data

Parents want transparency from schools concerning use of student data

Summary: A new survey suggests that the majority of American adults are concerned about how student data is collected, stored and shared in schools.

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TOPICS: Privacy, Education
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American parents overwhelmingly support reforms in schools to protect students and their data, research shows.

A survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of Common Sense Media, comprising of telephone interviews of 800 U.S. adults from January 6 - 10, suggests that greater transparency, tighter security and restrictions on third parties & cloud services are wanted by most U.S. parents to protect data collected in schools.

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Credit: CBS Interactive

89 percent of those surveyed said they are 'very' or 'somewhat' concerned about advertisers using kids' personal data for marketing purposes, but many parents -- six in ten -- said they were in the dark over how their local schools collect and store such data online, and whether private companies were involved.

"What we are hearing from American families is that students’ personal and private information must not be used for advertising, period," said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. "Privacy in general is a major concern for Americans, and what we are clearly seeing from this poll is that schools should be completely off limits when it comes to collecting the personal information of students for marketing purposes. The school zone must, at all times, be a safe privacy zone. It is critical that educators, the technology industry, and our nation’s leaders establish universal best practices that safeguard students' personal information that is collected by schools."

The telephone poll showed that 90 percent of adults -- both parents and non-parents -- are concerned with how "non-educational" interests are able to access and use student data gathered by schools. In addition, there is strong support for reform, including increased transparency laws that require schools to notify parents before educational establishments share student data with private companies. According to 89 percent of respondents, tighter security controls should be enforced if data is stored in the cloud, and 74 percent also believe that third-parties should be restricting from using students' online habits and searches to refine marketing methods.

The majority of U.S. adults said that services including Google should face restrictions on building data profiles and demographics based on students' email, searches and web history. In total, 86 percent of Americans said that protecting children’s safety and personal information should be priority number one, and very few believed that additional restrictions would stifle innovation or be burdensome to large firms collecting such data.

Steyer added:

"There is no doubt that Americans believe student information must be protected. If the technology industry and educators don’t take the initiative to protect students, there will be legislative action. We sincerely hope that leaders can come together quickly to address these concerns so that students can benefit from the powerful education technologies available without compromising their personal information."

Topics: Privacy, Education

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