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Apps Used in Schools Cause Some Debate

School use of technology and applications that track student data, such as electronic hall passes and education software, has been raising privacy concerns from parents and other education experts . While privacy has been improving in some of these programs and applications, anonymous information may still be sold. Heather Kelly, counsel and director of privacy review at Common Sense Media in The Washington Post says that it is important parents are aware of the policies that deal with their childrens’ data.

Asking The Vendors Your School Uses About Student Privacy

Do you know what kind of student data management system your child’s school uses or what evaluations took place to select it? Securing student data should be a leading consideration of any school or district adopting a student data management system, as with almost every week comes another data breach story. What kinds of questions should you as a parent be asking about data privacy? Edscoop recently covered some best practices of education technology polices, which provides some good insight for parents or educators who want to evaluate the technologies their school has in place.

FTC Sets Sights Set On Updating Children’s Online Privacy

Following its $170 million settlement with YouTube for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) violations, the Federal Trade Commission has its sights set on updating the law meant to safeguard children’s online privacy. A recently hosted public workshop explored necessary revisions, and Isaac Mamaysky of the Potomac Law Group writes that educational technology companies and parents will need to pay close attention to changes. Parents should also read the public service announcement issued by the FBI regarding the risks of kids’ personal data being improperly or insecurely stored by companies that develop and host apps for children.

Many Schools Looking to Monitor Students’ Online Activity

In attempts to prevent violence in schools, some districts nationwide are taking steps to monitor students' online activity and social media posts. Spurred in part by the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a year and a half ago, schools nationwide are collaborating with law enforcement in new ways in efforts to avoid these kind of tragedies. Investments are being made in new security technologies that can scan social media posts, school assignments and even student emails for potential threats. Supporters say such steps make students safer, but some others have expressed concern for student privacy. Critics also worry that social media monitoring could make criminals out of students who are just having typical kinds of teenage social and emotional problems.

Facebook Offers a Wealth of Information to Identity Thieves

Identity theft has exploded in part because of how people use social media, says Frank Abagnale, a former con artist who later became a security consultant and now works with the FBI. "When we interview people who commit these crimes and ask them what's the No. 1 source they go to when they steal someone's identity, they say their Facebook page," he said. One tip of advice he mentions is that you should avoid posting demographic information such as birthplace and birthdate on any social media profile.

A Perspective on the Social Media Use of Generation Z

A recent article from CNBC takes a look at Generation Z (8 to 22 year-olds) and their feelings on social media. The article revealed that in an interview with a group of 17-year-olds, almost all said that they rarely watch regular TV and hardly ever use Facebook. It was also found that members of Gen Z are typically more conscious of privacy concerns when using social media apps than older generations, however they can have difficulty distinguishing between what is paid content from advertisers.

The teenagers spoke to CNBC after a week at London ad agency Isobel, which runs a summer school program for students. Two teams were tasked with creating an ad campaign to warn younger teens of the dangers of social media, before presenting them to a judging panel. One team cautioned children not to share their location on social media with the tagline “Your World is Theirs,” while the second group encouraged youngsters to “Pull the Plug on Online Hate.”

Flaw in “Messenger Kids” Fixed By Facebook

Facebook has notified parents and corrected a technical error that permitted thousands of children using the Messenger Kids app to join group chats not approved by their parents. The app lets children between 6 and 12 years old message and video chat with family and friends who their parents approve. It's unclear how long the flaw existed. The app has been controversial since its launch in December 2017, and child advocacy groups have repeatedly urged Facebook to shut down the app, arguing it violates a federal law aimed at protecting a child's online privacy.

Hacker Attacks on Schools Are On The Rise

The Associated Press reports that schools using education technologies are becoming targets of cyberattacks that disrupt digital lesson plans and could potentially compromise data. Schools "may be considered easy targets because they're a little bit more open than your traditional corporate culture," said Sean Wiese, chief information security officer for North Dakota, where a malware attack last year affected a large number of public schools.

Your School Collects Lots of Data On Your Kids. The Problem Is Deleting It

America's schools are awash in data, and while concerns about the privacy and security of students' information are regularly discussed, the Center for Democracy & Technology says there is one issue that has been mostly overlooked: properly getting rid of student data when it's no longer needed. "Deleting data is much more complicated than one might think, with a number of important policy, legal, and technical considerations," reads the group's new report, titled "Balancing the Scale of Student Data Deletion and Retention and Education."

Do you know what your school or district does with your child’s data after they graduate or leave the school?

Updating COPPA?

The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), is considering updating privacy laws that protect children online. If you are unfamiliar with COPPA, it requires operators of commercial websites, online services, and mobile apps to get permission from parents before gathering information about any child under the age of 13. The act was put in place to give parents say in what type of information is collected and/or shared about their children online. The commission typically reviews rules every ten years to determine if changes in technology necessitate an update to the rules that go along with it. The FTC is holding a public workshop on October 7, 2019 to examine the COPPA Rule and seek comments from consumers. More details about the workshop can be found on the event page.

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