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Endangering Student Privacy in the Name of School Safety

In the wake of tragedy, there is an understandable desire by policymakers to act with urgency. Unfortunately, this can lead to untested policy that may jeopardize the very people it is intended to protect. A recent example is Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Policymakers and education practitioners should be mindful of the risk of amassing and integrating large amount of data without proving its effectiveness could pose to the wellbeing of children. Limited and appropriate data sharing can play a role in supporting school safety, but it should not come at the expense of the students it is intended to protect.  

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CDT Expands Student Privacy Focus

CDT is expanding our focus on student privacy. Our goal is to provide a balanced voice and solutions-oriented resources around core issues to help educators and policymakers navigate the complex digital world. We’ll be leveraging our existing expertise on privacy & data in other sectors, including how to address bias in digital decision-making up front to prevent unintended consequences.

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Surveying State Student Privacy Laws

In the absence of a comprehensive baseline consumer privacy law, student privacy is addressed by a patchwork of state and federal laws. With more and more states legislating around privacy in new and novel ways, understanding these laws has become challenging. To help sort through this maze of laws, CDT developed a state-by-state survey of student privacy laws, along with a great team at BakerHostetler.

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Tech Talk: Good Digital Parenting

CDT’s Tech Talk is a podcast where we dish on tech and Internet policy, while also explaining what these policies mean to our daily lives. In this episode we talk about good digital parenting and share insights on nonprofit fundraising.

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States Take Steps to Limit School Surveillance of Student Social Media Pages

It’s no secret that schools across the country regularly monitor students’ social media pages. In Florida and California, for example, school districts hire “social media listening” services to monitor students’ pages for threats of violence. Federal student privacy laws do not address social media surveillance, and few state laws prevent schools from accessing content students post on social media pages that are not private.

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Student Privacy Ought To Be Protected Comprehensively

Schools have largely embraced education applications, websites, and devices as means for improving classroom instruction and administration. However, there seems to be a trend in company policies and proposed laws toward drawing sharp, inflexible lines between products that are “for education” and those that are not. However, it’s clear that this line is often blurred. A number of existing student privacy bills arguably would not address these gray areas.

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Privacy and the Digital Student: Paths Forward

This year has seen a flurry of attention around student data privacy: over 180 state student privacy bills have been introduced, and Congress is considering multiple federal student privacy bills. Last week, CDT continued this conversation with a Hill briefing on the topic. The briefing, “Privacy and the Digital Student: Paths Forward,” brought together advocates, industry leaders and Congressional members and staff to discuss the state of student privacy law and policy.

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President Obama Announces Student Privacy Legislative Proposal

President Obama announced today proposals for enhanced consumer privacy legislation, including a new federal student privacy law. According to the White House, the Student Digital Privacy Act is “designed to provide teachers and parents the confidence they need to enhance teaching and learning with the best technology — by ensuring that data collected in the educational context is used only for educational purposes.”

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