Our Educator Privacy Toolkit presentation at the NPE conference

Melissa Tomlinson and Marla Kilfoyle of the Badass Teachers Association along with Rachael Stickland and Leonie Haimson presented the new  Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy at the Network for Public Education Conference in Indianapolis last Saturday, October 20, 2018. Check it out below.

Since the Toolkit was released on Thursday Oct. 18, it has been downloaded more than 2000 times! You can download the entire toolkit yourself at https://bitly.com/PCSP_EducatorPrivacyToolkit.   

Outsourcing the Classroom to Ed Tech & Machine-learning: Why Parents & Teachers Should Resist

Check out the presentation that we gave at the Network for Public Education Conference in Indianapolis on Oct. 30.

My powerpoint is here. Presenting with me were Audrey Watters, pre-eminent critic of ed tech who blogs at Hack Education and retired English teacher Peter Greene, whose indispensable commentary on all things education can be found on his blog Curmudgucation and now at Forbes.

Audrey’s presentation is also written up on her blog here.  A livestream of the event is available on  our Student Privacy Facebook page and below; the real stuff starts at about eleven minutes in.

New Educator Toolkit to protect data privacy

A good article about the Toolkit was published in Ed Week here.

For immediate release: October 18, 2018
Contact: Marla Kilfoyle; marlakilfoyle1@gmail.com; 516-987-4405
Rachael Stickland; rachael.stickland@gmail.com;  303-204-1272

New Educator Toolkit to protect data privacy

 Guide designed to prevent breaches or abuse of personal information

Today, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and The Badass Teachers Association released an Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy:  A Practical Guide for Protecting Personal Data.  The Toolkit is a comprehensive guide to help educators deal with the complex world of data privacy and the widespread proliferation of education technology.  It is designed to support their efforts to become responsible digital citizens by providing strategies and best practices to minimize the disclosure of personal data and protect the privacy of their students as well as their own.

Through an online survey and focus groups, the authors discovered that most teachers feel they are forced to implement ed tech products which gather and use data in ways they do not understand.  Sixty eight percent of respondents said they didn’t know if the products they used sold student data or used it for marketing purposes, and sixty nine percent said that they felt that their training in data privacy had been insufficient.

Teachers are also being asked to share more and more of their own data in ways that violate their privacy.  The recent strike in West Virginia was in part sparked by a demand from the state that they wear devices to collect data on their movements and physical activities.  In user-friendly terms, the Toolkit explains what federal laws protect student data, what common classroom practices to avoid, and how to advocate for stronger privacy policies at the school and district level.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in support of the toolkit: “As states continue to disinvest in public education, large technology companies have turned their sights on school districts as a lucrative business opportunity. Too often, school districts purchase and implement these aggressively marketed digital programs and resources without having the privacy safeguards and quality-assurance mechanisms in place to protect students and their teachers.

“When used appropriately, technology can be a powerful classroom tool to enhance the learning of students and support the work of educators. But unregulated, technology should never supplant the work that educators do, particularly when exposure to hackers, fraud and infiltration can provide a real security threat. This toolkit helps ensure that digital and new media tools don’t infringe on the safety of our schools.”

Leonie Haimson, the co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy explained, “Privacy is a precious if vanishing resource with expanding data collection and use of ed tech tools in the classroom. In a recent public service announcement, the FBI warned that cyber criminals have been hacking into school databases, threatening students with violence and the release of their personal information.  It is critically important that educators learn how to safeguard their students’ sensitive information from breach and misuse, yet up to now, most teachers have felt unprepared to do so.”

“We surveyed and interviewed 365 educators from across the country to find that teachers care deeply about their privacy and want to learn more about protecting their own sensitive information as well as that of their students,” remarked Rachael Stickland, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. She concluded, “Our hope is that this toolkit gives teachers easy access to the resources they need every day to make the best possible decisions to keep personal data at school safe.”

Marla Kilfoyle, former executive director of The Badass Teachers Association explained, “As an educator who has been the victim of an ed tech product that has threatened my privacy, the work that has been done on this toolkit is important to safeguard data for everyone using these  products. It has been an honor to work on this toolkit for over a year. I have been an educator for 30 years and this toolkit has taught me so much about my own personal data, how to protect the data of my students, and how to advocate for data privacy in my district.”

President of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen Garcia said, The Educators Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy” will be a helpful document to educators across the nation as they navigate the complexities of protecting privacy data today. NEA applauds the BATs for their leadership in raising the issue of privacy and creating this resource. This guide can serve as an important tool when used in conjunction with the expertise of local Uniserve [union advocacy staff]  or legal counsel when seeking specific guidance relative to an educator’s unique worksite and legislative geography. Today, we need all the good information we can get!”

Melissa Tomlinson, assistant executive director of The Badass Teachers Association stated, “Working on The Educators Toolkit has been an eye-opening experience for me. Armed with this information, I have changed practices within my own classroom around how I use technology in ways to make sure all of my students’ information remains safe.”

As the FBI pointed out, “widespread collection of sensitive information by education technology vendors, such as web browsing history, biometric data and students’ geolocation, could present unique exploitation opportunities for criminals.”  It is our hope that teachers, administrators, and union leaders will share this Toolkit, and use it in trainings so that educators better understand how to ensure their students’ privacy and their own.

The Toolkit was made possible by grants from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, the American Federation of Teachers, and the NEA Foundation.

Access the toolkit here http://bit.ly/PCSP_EducatorPrivacyToolkit  or  http://bit.ly/EducatorToolkitBATs  

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Advocates Tell FTC: Facebook is violating children’s privacy law Complaint says controversial Messenger Kids app doesn’t comply with COPPA

Parent Coalition for Student Privacy signed onto this complaint to the FCC about Facebook’s violation of children’s privacy and the federal law known as COPPA via its Messenger for Kids app.
Contact: David Monahan, CCFC: david@commercialfreechildhood.org; 617-896-9397

BOSTON – Wednesday, October 3, 2018 – Today, a coalition of 17 public health advocacy groups called on the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to investigate and take action against Facebook for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The groups filed a complaint asserting that Messenger Kids, a controversial messaging application for children as young as five, collects kids’ personal information without obtaining verifiable parental consent or providing parents with clear and complete disclosures of Facebook’s data practices.

Messenger Kids is the first major social platform designed specifically for young children. The FTC complaint says that Facebook’s parental consent mechanism does not meet the requirements of COPPA because it’s not reasonably calculated to ensure that the person providing consent is actually the child’s parent. Any adult user can approve any Messenger Kids account, and testing confirmed that even a fictional “parent” holding a brand-new Facebook account could immediately approve a child’s account without proof of identity. The complaint also asserts that Facebook Messenger Kids’ privacy policy is incomplete and vague. The policy allows Facebook to disclose data to unnamed third parties and the “Facebook Family of Companies” for broad, undefined business purposes. The policy does not specify what companies are in the “Facebook Family.” COPPA requires that privacy policies list the name and contact information of any third parties who have access to children’s data.

The complaint was organized by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and drafted by the Communications & Technology Law Clinic in the Institute for Public Representation (“IPR”) at Georgetown University Law Center. “Despite Facebook’s promises to the contrary, Messenger Kids blatantly violates COPPA’s protections for children’s privacy by collecting children’s personal information without informed, verifiable parental consent,” said Jim Graves, Staff Attorney and Clinical Teaching Fellow at IPR. “In fact, Facebook’s parental verification method is similar to one the FTC rejected in 2013. The FTC should act quickly to stop Facebook’s violation of children’s privacy.”

Earlier this year, CCFC sent Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter signed by over 100 experts and advocates, asking him to pull the plug on Messenger Kids because it undermines children’s healthy development. CCFC also launched a petition calling on Facebook to scrap the app.

“While evidence shows that excessive social media use negatively impacts the wellbeing of children and teens, Facebook is trying to get kids hooked at the tender age of five,” said CCFC’s Executive Director Josh Golin. “They tell parents that Messenger Kids was designed to be safe for children, but they don’t even comply with the most basic privacy requirements of the law. The best choice for parents is clear: keep young kids away from Facebook.”

Organizations which signed today’s complaint along with Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood were Badass Teachers Association, Centre for Child Honouring, Consumer Federation of America, Defending the Early Years, EPIC Privacy, Media Education Foundation, MomsRising/MamásConPoder, New Dream, Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, Parents Across America, Peace Educators Allied for Children Everywhere (P.E.A.C.E.), Public Citizen, The Story of Stuff, TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Childhood Entertainment), United Opt Out National, and USPIRG.
CCFC is the home of the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, which provides resources for parents and professionals who want to reduce the time children spend on digital devices.

Read the full complaint here: https://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/sites/default/files/devel-generate/wab/FTC%20FB%20Messenger%20Kids%20Letter.pdf


Join us next month in Indy to discuss privacy & online learning!

Next month in Indianapolis, the Network for Public Education will be holding our annual conference on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20-21.  More info and how to register here.

I will be participating in two amazing panels focused on how protect students and teachers from the growing threat to data privacy and resist the  the expansion of online learning which is undermining the quality of public education.

The first workshop, to be held on Saturday Oct. 20 morning at 10:50 AM is entitled Outsourcing the classroom to ed tech & machine-learning: why parents & teachers should resist .  Presenting with me are two brilliant bloggers and thinkers whose work I never fail to learn from, Audrey Watters and Peter Greene. 

Audrey has single-handedly and fiercely taken on the ed tech industry for many years and  critiques their claims on her essential blog,  Hack Education.  If you haven’t subscribed to her newsletter, you absolutely should do so.  She is currently writing a book to be published by MIT Press called Teaching Machines.

Peter is a Pennsylvania teacher who retired last year, but even while teaching was among the most prolific and incisive education bloggers at Curmudjucation. He also now writes a regular column for Forbes.    In his writings, he deconstructs and eviscerates the agenda of the corporate reformers and faux philanthropists, whether it be the promotion of online education, Common Core, high-stakes testing or any of the other snake oil  disseminated by private interests bent on disrupting public education.  He shows how they are based neither on research, common sense, or the experience of teachers or parents.

During the second workshop, held later the same day, our panel will present A Teacher Data Privacy Toolkit: How to protect your students’ privacy and your own.  Marla Kilfoyle and Melissa Tomlinson of the Badass Teachers Association, Rachael Stickland co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and I will offer some of the highlights and practical tips of our yet-to-be released Toolkit, the product of  a year-long collaboration between the PCSP and the BATs, with support from the Rose Foundation, the NEA and the AFT.

From responses to an online survey and focus groups of teachers, administrators and other school staff, we heard loud and strong how educators were deeply frustrated by the lack of training and knowledge they had about how to minimize and safeguard the increasing amount of personal data being collected by schools and vendors, and how they can work to ensure it isn’t breached or improperly used.  This toolkit, like the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy we along with Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood released in 2017, represents an attempt to provide the support and information that teachers need to act as responsible guardians of their students’ privacy — and their own.

Please join us in Indianapolis – more amazing speakers and panels are described here. — Leonie Haimson