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Fonte: edscoop

Today’s students are not just using technology in computer science classes, or sharing a tablet for the occasional math game. In many schools, educational technology tools and programs have become essential for completing classwork and homework. They are integral to logistical systems for school management, like online bulletin boards, private group calendars, practice schedules and research portals. These and other edtech resources provide many benefits for students, but as with all technology, they can raise accompanying concerns — particularly for the handling of students’ personal or educational data.

One key part of evaluating the privacy risks of an edtech product is analyzing the company’s privacy policy. But school administrators and teachers typically don’t have the time or expertise to parse the inscrutable legalese constituting most privacy policies. At the same time, many edtech companies don’t have the resources for in-house or outside legal counsel to write a clear, concise, comprehensive policy sufficiently attuned to the needs of the education sector. This is particularly challenging because educational technologies must comply with privacy laws that target children’s and educational data in addition to abiding by standard legal requirements that apply to all tech products. Edtech companies must consider their compliance with federal privacy laws like COPPA and FERPA; a variety of individual state student privacy laws; and standard legal obligations, such as providing users with reasonable notice of the company’s data collection practices.

In light of these complicating factors, edtech privacy policies end up being both hard to read and hard to write. Given the sensitivity of students’ personal information, responsible tech vendors are motivated to effectively communicate relevant information and build trust between schools, vendors and parents. Yet the practical challenges make clarity elusive.

Acknowledging these concerns, the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software & Information Industry Association founded the Student Privacy Pledge in 2014. The Pledge is a Federal Trade Commission-enforceable code of conduct for edtech vendors. Now with nearly 330 companies as signatories, the Pledge was designed to both raise awareness of best practices and facilitate their implementation.

Part of my role as a policy fellow at FPF is reviewing and evaluating the relevant policies of each new company that applies to join the Pledge. Over time, I’ve observed several challenges and issues crop up in multiple privacy policies. Below, I describe a few of the leading challenges and provide some guidance on how to avoid or mitigate them.

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