Kudos to the FCC

Tracy Mitrano, Inside Higher Ed,  Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wow, they did it, they really did it! The F.C.C. revised its initial rule offering about net neutrality and fast lanes to change the Internet categorization from “information service” to “telecommunications” and brought the entire mobile phone market also into that umbrella. That process was a true demonstration of democracy in action as the shift responded to the over four million comments to the original proposal and a strongly worded intention by President Obama last November. Here is what we all hope to see as a result of this new categorization: resources to build out broadband, improve disability services and create greater digital and information literacies

The Role of Privacy Practices in Information Management

Tracy Mitrano and Jacob Cunningham, EDUCAUSE,  Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cloud computing shifts the institutional burden from technology to contract formation. Nowhere is this shift more notable than in information management. Many privacy practices and technical security controls must be negotiated up front with the vendor. Physical technology rests on their premises while the institution's regulatory, business needs, and ethical responsibilities to maintain the information appropriately do not change.

Google to change privacy policy after investigation by UK data watchdog

Leila Abboud, Reuters,  Friday, January 30, 2015

Search engine Google has agreed to better inform users about how it handles their personal information after an investigation by Britain's data protection regulator found its privacy policy was too vague. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said in a statement on Friday that it required Google to sign a "formal undertaking" that it would make the changes by June 30 and take further steps in the next two years.

Companies need to be custodians of customer data, not owners

Suni Munshani, Help Net Security,  Thursday, January 29, 2015

Whether forced by law or their by their own initiative, businesses must change their mindset and realize that they are not “owners” of their customers’ data that must be monetized, but rather “custodians” of data that needs to be protected. The minute businesses start thinking of themselves of custodians of their customers’ data, they will think a lot harder about how that data is accessed and used. They will put in place protections to keep it out of the hands of people – both inside and outside of their companies – who don’t require it.

After a Wait, Google Signs Pledge on Student-Data Privacy

Sean Cavanagh and Michele Molnar, Education Week,  Tuesday, January 20, 2015

After initially declining to sign up, technology giant Google has joined a growing number of companies committing to a "student privacy pledge" created by advocacy groups and endorsed by the White House. Google has come under heavy scrutiny for privacy practices that critics have feared would open the door to students' personal information being used for advertising purposes, and the company has revised its policies in the face of those questions. The privacy pledge is being sponsored by the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington-based think tank that advocates for responsible data use, and the Software & Information Industry Association, a leading trade association, also headquartered in the nation's capital.

Why Google is ignoring Obama’s challenge to sign the Student Privacy Pledge

Jeff Gould by Jeff Gould, SafeGov.org
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Several months ago a group of privacy advocates and education software providers, with prominent support from the Obama administration, overcame their differences and agreed to a Student Privacy Pledge. The 12 commitments of this pledge make for a remarkably strong document that places important limits on how children’s data can be used by commercial firms. It comes at a time when interest and investment in education technology is booming as never before. Among the pledge’s key commitments...

Request for President Obama

Tracy Mitrano, Inside Higher Ed,  Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The oft-quoted "sale of student data to third parties" might sidestep another great offense involving use of education records: profiling. Companies such as Google do not sell the information that it mines; it uses that data for its own core business purposes of targeted marketing, advertising, or other commercial incentives. No doubt, sale of personally identifiable information in the consumer arena is one of the most common and egregious of business practices in the global information economy. Student information is particularly problematic because it violates existing law (FERPA) and because no one can predict to what uses that data will be made in the future of a student's long life. In particular, one could see how sensitive information collected (gender, class, race, ethnicity) could be used down the road for unforeseen purposes. But the main point is this: it is not just sale but the use to which the company doing the mining will make of the data that must be included in the scope of the proposed legislation.

Corporate student data privacy pledge

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Brad Smith, The Hill,  Thursday, October 23, 2014

The intersection of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act of 1998, a growing number of state laws, district policies, vendor contracts, and privacy policies create a situation in which it is hard to tell what protections and rights exist for children or for adults. To witness this trend is to worry that legitimate privacy concerns threaten to derail the potential of education technology to improve personalized learning.

Restoring Privacy in the Era of Big Data

Kris Alman, Student Privacy Matters,  Sunday, October 19, 2014

A parallel explosion of big data since 2001 is not coincidental. Big data utopians proclaim better integration of fragmented health and education sectors and data analysis will improve outcomes and improve value. The question never seems to be asked, “For whom?”

SafeGov Releases Results of Global Parents Surveys Relating to Student Online Privacy

Jeff Gould by Jeff Gould, SafeGov.org
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Surveys of nearly 5,500 parents in 11 countries around the world, including Europe, Asia and North America, show that parents have high hopes for the contribution that Internet applications can make to their children’s education, especially when it comes to acquiring skills relevant to the modern global economy. At the same time, the vast majority of parents worry that internet companies are tracking and profiling their children’s online activities at school for advertising purposes, and they want such practices banned. Specifically, parents want stronger government regulations against online data mining in schools that isn’t directly related to improving academic performance, and they want schools to forbid such practices. The findings are based on a series of surveys conducted between 2012 and 2014 for SafeGov aimed at capturing global parents’ views on the benefits and risks of proliferating in-school access to internet applications such as email, document creation and group collaboration.