President Obama Backs FPF-SIIA Student Privacy Pledge

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The Pledge Is A Strong Means Of Protection For Student Personal Information

Supporters include Microsoft, Apple, Amplify, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Edmodo, Lifetouch, Knewton, Code.org, Shutterfly, Clever, eScholar, Class Dojo, DreamBox Learning

Washington, D.C. – Monday, January 12, 2015 – President Obama today strongly endorsed the Student Privacy Pledge, calling for more companies to make a firm commitment to using student data only for educational purposes.

“We developed the Pledge to provide a way for school service providers to clearly explain to parents, students and teachers how data is being used to support student education”, explained FPF Executive Director Jules Polonetsky. “And, in a gridlocked Congress where federal legislation faces challenges, the Pledge creates an immediate and enforceable legal code for companies that sign on. The Administration was instrumental in helping to get the word out, and its support early on was important to many companies being interested.”

In October 2014, The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announced a K-12 school service providers Student Privacy Pledge to safeguard student privacy – outlining a dozen commitments regarding the collection, maintenance, and use of student personal information.

Seventy-five companies have now signed the Pledge to publicly declare their commitment to student privacy and to make a legal promise to follow the principles. The Pledge is effective as of January 1, 2015.

The Pledge commitments detail ongoing industry practices to ensure responsible, fair handling of student data. The Pledge applies to all student personal information whether or not it is part of an “educational record” as defined by federal law, and whether collected and controlled by a school or directly through student use of a mobile app or website assigned by their teacher. It also applies to school service providers whether or not they have a formal contract with the school.

Signers of the Student Privacy Pledge have committed to:

  • Not sell student information
  • Not behaviorally target advertising to students
  • Use data only for authorized education purposes
  • Not change privacy policies without notice and choice
  • Enforce strict limits on data retention
  • Support parental access to, and correction of errors in, their children’s information
  • Provide comprehensive security standards
  • Be transparent about collection and use of data

 

The Pledge was developed by the FPF and SIIA with guidance from the school service providers, educator organizations, and other stakeholders following a convening by U.S. Representatives Jared Polis (CO) and Luke Messer (IN). The Pledge has been endorsed by the National PTA and the National School Boards Association.

“Congressmembers Polis and Messer help kicked off the idea of a pledge and were critical to hammering out a privacy friendly set of rules that ensure data is protected and used to benefit student education,” said Jules Polonetsky, exec director of the Future of Privacy Forum

The initial leadership group of companies that launched the pledge in October included Amplify, Code.org, DreamBox Learning, Edmodo, Follett, Gaggle, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Knewton, Knovation, Lifetouch, Microsoft, MIND Research Institute, myON (a business unit of Capstone), and Think Through Math.

The full text of the Pledge and more information about how to support it, including a list of current signatories, are available at http://studentprivacypledge.org/.