Yesterday, several big tech companies that offer educational and school services signed the “Student Privacy Pledge,” introduced by the Future of Privacy Forum (“FPF”) and The Software & Information Industry Association (“SIIA”) to safeguard student privacy as it relates to the collection, maintenance, and use of students’ personal information.  Among the fourteen education tech companies representing the initial group to join SIIA and FPF in introducing the Pledge are Microsoft, Amplify, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Notably, tech giants Google and Apple were absent from the list of signatories.  As part of the Pledge, effective January 1, 2015, participating companies agree to the following commitments:

  • Not to collect, maintain, use or share student personal information beyond that needed for authorized educational/school purposes, or as authorized by the parent/student
  • Not sell student personal information
  • Not to use or disclose student information collected through an educational/school service (whether personal information or otherwise) for behavioral targeting of ads to students
  • Not to build a personal profile of a student other than for supporting authorized educational/school purposes or as authorized by the parent/student
  • Not to make material changes to school service provider consumer privacy policies without first providing prominent notice to the account holder(s) (i.e., the educational institution, or the parent/student when the information is collected directly from the student with student/parent consent) and allowing them choices before data is used in any manner inconsistent with terms they were initially provided; and not to make material changes to other policies or practices governing the use of student personal information that are inconsistent with contractual requirements
  • Not knowingly retain student personal information beyond the time period required to support the authorized educational/school purposes, or as authorized by the parent/student
  • Collect, use, share, and retain student personal information only for purposes for which companies are authorized by the educational institution, teacher, or the parent/student
  • Disclose clearly in contracts or privacy policies, including in a manner easy for parents to understand, what types of student personal information is collected and the purposes for which the information maintained is used or shared with third parties
  • Support access to and correction of students’ personally identifiable information by the student or their authorized parent, either by assisting the educational institution in meeting its requirements, or directly, when the information is collected from the student with student/parent consent
  • Maintain a comprehensive security program reasonably designed to protect the security, privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of student personal information against risks – such as unauthorized access or use, or unintended or inappropriate disclosure – through the use of administrative, technological, and physical safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information
  • Require that vendors with whom students’ personal information is shared in order to deliver the educational service are obligated to implement these same commitments
  • Allow a successor entity to maintain the students’ personal information, in the case of a merger or acquisition, provided the successor is subject to these same commitments for previously collected student personal information


Continue Reading Microsoft and Other Leading K-12 School-Service Providers Pledge To Protect Student-Data Privacy

The Department of Education has amended the implementing regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”).  According to the Department, the new regulations are intended to “safeguard student privacy while giving states the flexibility to share school data.”   

Among other things, the new regulations:

  • Make it easier for educational authorities to share educational