Dear Commons Community,
A week after California enacted a landmark law restricting the ways education technology companies can use the information they collect about elementary through high school students, a group of leading industry players is pledging to adopt similar data protections nationwide. As reported in the New York Times:
“The 14 companies include: Microsoft; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the educational publishing house; Amplify, a developer of digital curriculums; and Edmodo, an online network for schools that allows teachers to assign homework and measure students’ progress.
The participating companies are publicly committing themselves not to sell information on kindergartners through 12th graders. They have also pledged not to use students’ data to target them with advertisements, and not to compile personal profiles of students unless authorized by schools or parents. The companies hope other educational technology providers will join them.
The pledge was developed by the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank in Washington, in collaboration with the Software & Information Industry Association, a trade group. The groups said the initial signatories already adhere to these practices, but wanted to publicly articulate them now to allay some parents’ unease with student-tracking software.”
Educators and parents would be wise to be careful of any pledge made by the likes of Microsoft and Amplify. Both companies are strictly profit-driven and cannot be entrusted with student data. Amplify, whose parent company is News Corporation and owned by Rupert Murdoch, is part of a conglomerate that has been in judicial proceedings in the United Kingdom for hacking into people’s telephone records.