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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris issued comprehensive recommendations to edtech vendors on how to protect student privacy.
Corinne Lestch is a staff reporter covering education for EdScoop and its affiliate public sector technology news websites, FedScoop and StateScoop...
California's attorney general has released recommendations to edtech companies to protect student privacy and minimize data breaches in a new report obtained by EdScoop.
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said that student privacy is one of her top priorities, as well as ensuring that kids are safe from third-party vendors that may inappropriately collect or use personally identifiable information. The recommendations were contained in a just-released report, "Ready for School: Recommendations for the Ed Tech Industry to Protect the Privacy of Student Data."
"Organizations that make use of student data must take every step possible to be transparent with parents and schools and to protect student privacy," she wrote in a letter. "As the devices we use each day become increasingly connected, it’s critical that we implement robust safeguards for what is collected, how it is used, and with whom it is shared."
Harris said the recommendations build upon two major California laws enacted in 2014. The first, known as the Education Agency Contracts, applies to local school districts and charter schools and requires that certain terms be included in vendor contracts for services and software that store or collect student data. Student records must be the property of the local education agency, not the vendor, and parents can review their children's information to ensure it is correct.
The second state law is the Student Online Personal Information Privacy Act (SOPIPA), a law that has garnered nationwide attention for its strict procedures and obligations for edtech companies. This law is geared towards online operators and other services, rather than schools, that create apps and other digital tools are designed and used for K-12 school purposes.
While the report, and the recommendations, are not legally binding, Harris said they are a marker of how seriously the state takes this issue and part of an effort to encourage best practices among edtech vendors.
"These recommendations are intended to encourage companies whose Ed Tech products enter the physical or virtual classroom to model the good digital citizenship that our students are being taught by protecting their personal information and using it only for school purposes," according to the report.
Among the recommendations listed in the report: