I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Larry Jacobs, host of EduTalk Radio to discuss education technology. We focused on student data privacy and some of the compliance challenges faced by both technology developers and educational institutions. We also spent time discussing a few of the reasons why the legislation in this arena has become so complex, and what stakeholders can do to support the creation of strong compliance environments in schools. You can check out the interview here. Enjoy!
PlayWell provides a variety of services to help education technology companies comply with student data privacy regulations.
Education technology products and questions surrounding student data privacy protections have been in the spotlight over the past year. According to Data Quality Campaign, 110 bills were introduced across 36 states, with 24 signed into law, representing an unprecedented level of regulatory scrutiny.
The White House has now stepped in, recognizing the significant concerns of percolating across the nation around how to best product student data privacy. In a visit to the Federal Trade Commission, President Obama noted that education technology is “transforming how our children learn,” but some companies are using student data for “commercial purposes, like targeted advertising,” much to the chagrin of parents, educators and legislators.
He has introduced the Student Digital Privacy Act, which is intended to ensure that data collected about students is only used for educational purposes, and not for behavioral profiling or targeted marketing.
At PlayWell, we recognize that it’s incumbent upon developers and operators in the ed tech space to understand their responsibilities to protect student data privacy and security, and to support schools in their efforts to use compliant products in the classroom. We offer companies a variety of student data privacy assessment services related to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), and certain state requirements. We also offer workshops for schools, parents and youth groups interested in better understanding how to choose compliant technology products and manage their privacy and safety in the digital world.
In addition, PlayWell is the architect and author of the nation’s first industry self-regulatory assessment program for FERPA, which it also implements. PlayWell created the FERPA Assessment Program in connection with a nonprofit organization, and we are pleased to also extend our support to all of the other fantastic organizations bringing meaningful self-regulation to the education technology industry.
- Experience matters: It’s not uncommon to see policies missing key ingredients, or with information that – while accurate – reflects practices that aren’t compliant. If you’re not equipped to write the policy yourself, work with someone who is fluent in applicable federal and state regulation, self-regulation and your industry norms. All areas of expertise are important. You’ll want someone who can put all the required elements into the policy and help you address any practices that step outside the lines.
- Look ahead: Consider not only what you’re doing now, but what you might do in the future so that you can avoid rewriting the policy with every product change. Are there features on your roadmap that have implications for data handling practices? Planning to run a promotion in the next few months? It’s OK to craft the policies around these now, as long as the end results accurately explain what you will do in the future.
- Stay informed: Your policy may be complete, but the work isn’t done. Industry is always moving forward. Your business and products will evolve over time, and regulatory changes are on the horizon as well. Know what’s coming next and be sure that your policies and practices remain accurate and up-to-date.