The War on Privacy is Real. Are Students Winning?

A topic that you’ve heard about but don’t really want to talk about is data privacy.

Anyone who engages with technology is generating untold amounts of data that everyone wants a piece of

, loosely dividing the war on privacy into the consumers and the consumed (and those organizations who aim to protect them).That’s right, the “consumers” in this context are those who feed off of your data. Perhaps the largest consumers in the war on privacy are the American tech giants like Google & Facebook who provide enough value that the consumed stay reluctantly complacent. Then there are mercenaries and rogue agents who have nefarious intentions for your data. Then there’s you, the vulnerably consumed. So who’s winning this war?

We have some good news and some bad news. 

Let’s start with the bad news.

Privacy violation and hacking are getting worse by the day.

Who is affected?

Everyone.

Even students? …Of all ages?

Unfortunately.

According to a recent report, a cybersecurity attack affects K-12 schools nearly every 3 days. Even though these attacks are mostly due to human error, most school districts can’t afford proper security to protect students’ information.

Furthermore, a recent study shows that many school districts actually fail at protecting student privacy altogether.

We don’t realize how lucrative our own data really is… Before the existence of “user data” generated by ubiquitous access to technology, we clamored for things like natural resources and nice real estate. But today, holding power means having access to your data and for certain members of society, namely students, we should be fighting hard for protections.

Now for the good news.

In May 2018, the EU implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was designed to ensure data privacy for citizens of the EU. GDPR regulates and protects the collection of personal data and addresses data being exported outside of the European Economic Area. Following the execution of these laws, many state governments in the US decided to follow in the EU’s footsteps by creating their own laws aimed at protecting our personal data.

In the fall of 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a Public Service Announcement urging students and parents to be more aware of the severity of cybersecurity threats affecting K-12 students specifically. Sara Collins, Tyler Park and Amelia Vance of the Future of Privacy Forum applaud the FBI’s attention to this issue and strongly agree that everyone should be aware of the importance of data protection.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that has been in place since 1974. Under Ferpa, parents are given the right to access student educational records, however, school’s are required to have the students’ permission after they turn 18.

Following FERPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) became a federal law. COPPA protects the online presence of children under 13 or with disabilities, through the collection of their data. Websites are required to include a privacy policy which details the responsibility the website has to protect children’s data.

Since these federal laws have been enacted, nearly every state has data privacy regulations in place, making big strides to protect your data.

So, are students really winning in the war on privacy?

We can’t yet announce a winner with any confidence.

The government is really taking leaps to protect all consumer data, which are little victories for students and the consumed everywhere.

But, because these regulations are so new, states are being a little more lenient with compliance. That being said, hackers are still going to try to get your data any way that they can, regardless of these regulations, so you should be taking cautionary steps to make sure the data is secure in your educational space.

Mike Olsen, founder and CEO of Proctorio, a live & fully automated remote proctoring solution, will be joined by Sara Collins from the Future of Privacy Forum and Chris Takemori of Instructure, to host a panel at the SXSW EDU conference in Austin, Texas on March 7. This panel will cover “Why GDPR Matters for Edtech Startups”. You can attend this panel to hear these panelists argue why data protection regulations are so important for educational technology startups.

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