The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Data breach early this year is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Technology is advancing rapidly in education sector too and protecting student data in schools is a matter of utmost importance but the edtech companies have certain concerns.
Lawmakers and school district leaders are making policies which come down hard on the ed-tech companies to protect student data privacy. Whereas, the investors in these companies are least concerned with the student data privacy protection as they feel that this hinders innovation and creation. There is lack of uniform policies on student data privacy at federal, state and local levels resulting in the edtech companies, parents and schools seldom being on the same platform on this. When edtech companies change ownership it is not necessary that student data will be part of the deal. The data is a part of a student’s profile and unless it has been erased, this data is available even after graduation.
Edtech companies are always under pressure to beef up privacy protection because the schools need big data analysis to make certain decisions and big data attracts hackers. Despite certain apps and social media platforms having a track record of releasing student data to the third party, some schools and districts just refuse to give them up.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has issued clear instructions that any personally identifiable student information has to be masked. Schools sometimes ask parents to sign the user agreement with edtech companies that request permission to use, publish or otherwise distribute data. Stringent data privacy protection laws have been passed by the states and those companies that do not comply with same will not be able to place their products in schools.