Parents struggle to secure student data on school devices


A disturbing new report from the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Found (EFF) suggests that parents have lost control in the fight to secure their kids’ data on school-issued devices.

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A lack of privacy in the classroom

The EFF has issued a new report titled Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy that paints a bleak picture of digital privacy in public and private schools alike.

One-third of primary and secondary school kids use school-issued educational technology devices like tablets, laptops and more. Chromebooks are reportedly among the most popular devices.

Meanwhile, 30 million kids, teachers and administrators use Google’s education suite of software, according to the EFF.

Naturally, that widespread use of technology in the classroom raises privacy concerns. But sadly, parents don’t seem to have any idea what’s going on when it comes to school tech privacy policies.

The EFF found 57% of parents they surveyed said they did not receive written disclosure of the tech privacy practices and policies at their local school. Another 23% weren’t sure if they had received such disclosure or not.

Moreover, even if parents did get the privacy policy and there was a way to opt out of data sharing, there were still additional roadblocks.

“If administrators are open to providing an opt-out option, many parents and students have found it difficult to make alternative technologies and teaching methods a reality,” the EFF notes.

Don’t delude yourself into thinking this is just an issue in the public schools because they tend to suffer from a lack of resources and staff.


One parent from an Arizona private school told the EFF, “Opt-out is possible in theory, but not in practice.”

What’s a parent to do?

You’ve heard the expression, “You can’t fight city hall.” Well, the same could be said of the board of education in your town or at your private school.

Perhaps the best remedy is being proactive in the fight for student privacy…

The EFF has several recommendations for schools, parents and students in the interim.

If you’re using a Chromebook in the classroom — as many students are — a temporary stopgap measure might be to limit what Google knows about you.

Find out how you can see everything Google knows about you, how to delete your activity and how to limit your data from being saved in the future.

Ultimately, legislators will have to take up the privacy mantle on behalf of our nation’s students to have some real change in this arena!

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