Protecting student privacy

July 4th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Waldo Kuipers at blogs on the issue of protecting student privacy.

New Zealand’s schools work hard to earn the trust of their communities. As part of the important work they do, schools need to collect and hold a large body of confidential and private information about children and their families.

The 2020 Communications Trust ICT in Schools survey suggests that if digital records and email are not already used extensively in every New Zealand school, they soon will be.

In recent years some schools have taken a step further, and are starting to send information to computing services outside the school grounds for storage and processing.

In the hands of teachers who have been supported with skills development and the freedom to innovate, new devices and cloud services present wonderful opportunities to prepare students for the future.

Microsoft had do a survey of parents on their expectations. The results were:

  • 95% want schools to require providers of computing and Internet services to commit by contract that they’ll only use student data to deliver services to schools, not for the companies’ own purposes.
  • 97% of parents want schools to ensure student data is used only for education, and not for commercial exploitation.
  • 99% of parents indicated their belief that schools’ duty of care should apply to the computer and Internet environment they provide for student learning.
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9 Responses to “Protecting student privacy”

  1. RRM (10,034 comments) says:

    95% want schools to require providers of computing and Internet services to commit by contract that they’ll only use student data to deliver services to schools, not for the companies’ own purposes.

    It would be interesting to know how the question was worded for that one ;-)

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  2. lazza (387 comments) says:

    Saw an item where Ipad equivilent notebook/Ereader, phone combos are being mass produced (in India?) for $US40! each.

    If true at this rate we can expect inexpensive IT to replace exercise-text-lesson outlines- books school admin etc.

    Now! is the time to get these IT educational school protocols … including porn/violence filtered internet firewalls (Edu intranets) and corporate and other privacy rules in place.

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  3. Viking2 (11,579 comments) says:

    Interesting and not at all surprising.
    Question then.
    How is KEY gunna prevent the gcsb et all from snooping? Seems it will be able to be legal under his bill.
    thought his performance yesterday smacked of untrustworthiness.
    Had others comment the same.

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  4. peterwn (3,314 comments) says:

    Some parent expressed concern about schools seeking ‘private’ information from pupils many years ago. A teacher wrote to the ‘Herald’ with an extract from an essay written by one of the kids. It seemed funny at the time, but not in a contemporary context. It was about how mum’s birthbay party turned into a ‘domestic’ and mum walking out. Dad hoped that mum would come back soon as she had the Bentfit (sic) Books (I think in those days one had to present the book at a post office and have it stamped to receive the payment). Doubt that mum or dad would have wanted their child to write about this.

    Also, a new teacher at a country school asked the kids to write about their favourite fishing spots including maps and illustrations. She then gave the essays to her husband …..

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  5. jakejakejake (140 comments) says:

    Does student data include the contents of emails? I’ll guess no.

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  6. berend (1,716 comments) says:

    Let me see. This comes from a company that works with the NSA/GCSB, and allows the government to store whom you email, every subject of your email, whom you call, the cover of every letter you send/receive, allows about 1% of its country access because everybody seems to have security clearance over there, and they let it leak all over the internet.

    Student data is provably not save if the government collects it.

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  7. gravedodger (1,573 comments) says:

    Swmbo attending a ChCh primary school gave a graphic account of “salmon” fishing at the Rakaia Mouth and included evidence of significant numbers of fish being landed.

    Teacher, a keen Salmon fisherman, took her aside at morning break to further enlighten himself as to possible breaches of fresh water fishing regulations and then made inquiries to her Dad.

    Bit of a storm in a teacup really when the “salmon” were in fact Kawhai, beach dogtucker to most even if good sport fish to play.

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  8. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    Let’s hope the government remembers that parents want the their children’s data protected and private when Gates and Murdoch come wanting it for inBloom (https://www.inbloom.org/). The Americans changed the law so parents could not opt out of supplying their children’s data (including disabilities, discipline incidents, test scores) and they in turn can sell it on to any company with any sort of vague connection to education.

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  9. Waldo (2 comments) says:

    @RRM

    The question was: “Should schools require outside companies who provide computing and Internet services to make binding contractual commitments that they will only use student data to provide the services schools want, and that they won’t use information about children and youths for their own purposes?”

    @jakejakejake

    There is often personal information in email, so it’s privacy 101 that schools should be thinking about the way content of student email is being used for new purposes by service providers, especially if the school is recommending or requiring students to use the service.

    @berend

    You can see the company’s statement on the issue here:
    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/Press/2013/Jun13/06-06statement.aspx

    For further information, there is also a transparency report here which includes NZ data:
    http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/reporting/transparency/

    @mpledger

    Definitely worth being careful about, and I am not across the details of inBloom, but I did notice there was a prominent statement about privacy on the inBloom page. It says, “Neither inBloom nor any other participating agency or vendor may sell, assign, lease or commercially exploit confidential student data. inBloom philanthropic supporters such as the Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation have no access to student data via inBloom.” If I was thinking about participating in the programme I would definitely be checking that inBloom matches this in their contract.

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