300: Rise of Student Privacy Pledge


The movie 300 was a hyper-visualized and entertaining, but horribly historically inaccurate depiction of the Battle of Thermopylae—a version of the historical battle that should never be taught in school.  However, just as 300 Spartans (at least according to the movie. . . ) fought to defend against the Persian invasion, 300 companies have pledged to fight the invasion of student privacy. 

The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announced Sept. 12 that the number of educational technology companies that have signed the Student Privacy Pledge has passed 300. The Pledge was originally introduced by the FPF and the SIAA in October 2014 and has been endorsed by President Barack Obama, the National PTA and the National School Boards Association, the announcement said.

In January 2015, the Pledge became legally enforceable for signatory companies that provide services to schools. The Pledge requires participating companies to follow 12 obligations, including: not selling student personal information, not using collected information for behavioral advertising and clearly disclosing privacy policies, among others.

Future Privacy Forum CEO Jules Polonetsky recently told Bloomberg BNA that as more students started using internet-connected devices and applications for school, companies didn’t really consider security and privacy issues. The use of student data applications has outpaced the necessary regulatory landscape to protect the data, he said. According to Polonetsky, student data privacy is a “shared responsibility” between vendors, school districts, school officials and parents. 

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