Student Privacy Pledge Reaches Milestone of 300 Signatories

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Children in classroom

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            

September 12, 2016

Contact: Melanie Bates, Director of Communications, [email protected]

STUDENT PRIVACY PLEDGE REACHES MILESTONE OF 300 SIGNATORIES

  • Student Privacy Pledge is a list of legally enforceable commitments companies can take to affirm that they safeguard student data
  • Launched in 2014 by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), and has now reached over 300 signatories
  • Endorsed by President Obama, the National PTA, and the National School Boards Association

Washington, DC – The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) are pleased to announce that the Student Privacy Pledge has passed a new milestone – over 300 ed tech company signatories. The Pledge is a list of commitments that school service providers can make to affirm that K-12 student information is kept private and secure. It has been endorsed by President Obama, the National PTA, and the National School Boards Association.

Companies who take the Student Privacy Pledge commit to twelve legally enforceable obligations, including that they will not sell student personal information, and will not collect or use student personal information other than what is needed for the given educational purposes. The commitments in the Pledge concisely detail existing federal law and regulatory guidance regarding the collection and handling of student data, and encourage service providers to more clearly articulate these practices.

The Pledge was introduced by FPF and SIIA in October 2014 with 14 signatory companies, and it took effect in January 2015 as a legally enforceable agreement for signing companies that provide services to schools. Since then, the number of Pledge signatories has substantially increased, reaching 200 in November 2015, and now passing 300.

“As students return to school for the Fall and teachers develop their curricula to incorporate the benefits of data and technology, companies that take the Pledge are ensuring that they are accountable for how they safeguard student data,” said Jules Polonetsky, CEO, Future of Privacy Forum.

“The continued strength in growth of this Pledge is indicative of the recognition within the industry of our duty to safeguard students and their personal information,” said Brendan Desetti, SIIA’s Director of Education Policy. “The Pledge’s enforceable provisions have also driven a rapid growth of the privacy-minded culture within companies today that places privacy first in the development process alongside functionality.”

The process for becoming a Pledge signatory is often an opportunity for companies to review their own privacy policies and make helpful updates—for example, to make the policy clearer or more understandable to parents and teachers. When a company requests to be added to studentprivacypledge.org, the team at FPF first reads that company’s privacy policy, and although FPF does not certify compliance, companies are only added as Pledge signatories if their policies do not contain any obvious inconsistencies with the text of the Pledge. Some frequent issues include the following:

  • Companies can easily avoid the most common issue: the policy for changing the policy. The most common issue encountered when companies request to take the Pledge is the provision in their privacy policy regarding future changes to that policy. Often, policies include language like, “we reserve the right to change this policy at any time, and we will notify you by posting the date of revision at the top of this page.” Because the Pledge (and the Federal Trade Commission) require notice and choice for material changes to a privacy policy, a company will not be added as a Pledge signatory until this kind of provision is updated.
  • Companies should ensure that their privacy policies aren’t written more broadly than necessary. Many privacy policies are written by attorneys who construct the language to be as encompassing as possible. Almost invariably, the company isn’t actually doing anything that conflicts with the Pledge commitments – but an overbroad policy may nonetheless conflict with the Pledge.

FPF and SIIA are proud to facilitate the efforts of education technology companies who demonstrate industry leadership in protecting student privacy by signing the Student Privacy Pledge. Companies and organizations wishing to review the full text of the Pledge and consider participation are invited to visit www.studentprivacypledge.org or email [email protected].

About FPF

The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) is a Washington, DC-based think tank that seeks to advance responsible data practices. The forum is led by Internet privacy experts and includes an advisory board comprised of leading figures from industry, academia, law, and advocacy groups. For more information, visit www.fpf.org.

About SIIA

SIIA is the leading association representing the software and digital content industries. The Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) of SIIA serves and represents more than 200 of SIIA’s 800 member companies worldwide that provide educational software applications, digital content, online learning services and related technologies across the K-20 sector. SIIA-ETIN shapes and supports the industry by providing leadership, advocacy, government relations, corporate education, intellectual property protection, business development opportunities and critical market information. For more information, visit www.siia.net.