Microsoft and other firms take pledge to protect student privacy

Fourteen companies have promised not to sell student data or use it for advertising

Microsoft and other companies that provide education technologies and services to U.S. schools aim to assuage parents' concerns about the collection and handling of student data with a pledge to protect that data.

The companies signing the pledge are, however, only a small section of providers to the kindergarten to 12th grade education sector. The pledge may also be an attempt to propose self-regulation as an alternative to tighter federal laws.

The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a think tank in Washington, D.C., and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), who announced the pledge late Monday, described the 14 companies who have signed the pledge as an "initial leadership group."

Microsoft and the 13 other companies have promised not to sell student information or behaviorally target advertising. They pledge, among other things, to be transparent about the collection and use of data, to adopt comprehensive security standards to protect student data and use the data only for authorized education purposes.

The push by the educational technology sector to develop new products and services for the education market has already come under scrutiny. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, for example, wrote in July to the U.S. Congress to urge review of emerging threats to student privacy rights and to ask for legislative action to address shortcomings in the existing law.

California Governor Jerry Brown last week signed a bill that would prohibit targeting of students for online marketing and advertising purposes, selling of student information, profiling students based on data collected, and requires operators to have security measures to protect student data.

A bill has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate to amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. The amendment, titled Protecting Student Privacy Act, aims to protect student data handled by private companies.

The FPF and SIIA said the new pledge was developed by the two organizations with guidance from school service providers, educator organizations, and other stakeholders following a convening by U.S. Representatives Jared Polis of Colorado and Luke Messer of Indiana.

Messer said in a statement that the principles would better inform the debate about what, if any legislation, is required to protect child privacy and to ensure information is used only for academic purposes.

The other companies signing the pledge include digital curriculum provider Amplify and textbook and educational software publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags educationMicrosoftsecurityindustry verticalsprivacy

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?