“Rampant data collection is not only destroying student privacy, it also threatens students’ intellectual freedom. When schools record and analyze students’ every move and recorded thought, they chill expression and speech, stifling innovation and creativity.”
Without trust, technology in the classroom will not move forward.
The Colorado bill, (that the SIIA lobbied against), has passed UNANIMOUSLY out of the Colorado House of Representatives, who refused any amendments from the SIIA. Very sophisticated technology officers from some of Colorado’s largest school districts evaluated this bill and felt there was nothing in the bill that would limit classroom technology and innovation. The bill is now set to be heard in the Senate, where the SIIA will likely once again lobby to weaken protections.
Speaking of trust…
When Google, a signatory of the SIIA pledge, was accused of spying on children and not upholding the SIIA pledge, (a FTC complaint was filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation), the SIIA did not come to the defense of children. Instead, the SIIA defended Google and the carefully worded promises in SIIA. So if EFF, a large foundation with the means, the attorneys, the expertise, is facing this kind of opposition from the software industry, how would a lone parent fare?
Can a parent file a complaint if a SIIA signatory vendor is not in compliance? Is the SIIA student privacy pledge enforceable?
As Joel Reidenberg of Fordham CLIP states here, we desperately need a FERPA update to give parents a private right of action, a way to hold accountable those who are misusing student data. Currently, parents have the burden of proof. Parents must somehow show how hidden, unknown data is misused and then it is up to the parents to hire an attorney and go up against the heavily funded edtech industry.
Brendan Desetti, the SIIA representative, says that parents who think SIIA vendors are misusing data should call the the Federal Trade Commission (regarding FTC section 5, ) and parents should also contact their state Attorney General. This advice is also found on the SIIA website, above.
So what happened when a parent called the FTC?
Turns out, neither the FTC representative we spoke to, (nor the supervisor we were transferred to), had heard of the SIIA pledge. After explaining the SIIA pledge and Mr. Desetti’s testimony to the FTC folks, and after they looked at the SIIA website, the FTC supervisor stated that the FTC does not enforce the SIIA pledge. The pledge is a promise, not a law. The FTC said the only student privacy violation they enforce is COPPA, which is a law that applies to children under 13 years old.
But, if you go back to section 5 of the FTC that prosecutes deceptive practices on a company -by- company basis, a parent must show that a company has breached its contract and misused data. If you have the means, the documentation, that is possibly enforceable, right? As written, would the SIIA pledge even help or factor into this? Perhaps? It is possible that the FTC can help parents who have documented concerns of a company misusing data. These parents can call the FTC with a complaint: 1-877-FTC-HELP.
However, if the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has already come to the defense of an accused vendor and not children, and knowing that the SIIA relies on access to student data and makes money off of edtech products, and now the SIIA is actively opposing student data privacy bills, it’s a little difficult for parents to put their trust in SIIA. It’s all about protecting the kids? $$$$