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Paying Attention to Student Privacy Laws


COPPA and FERPA Privacy Laws

More educators follow the requirements of FERPA and COPPA than actually understand exactly what the two federal government acts require. FERPA, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, is a federal law that dates back to 1974. Simply, it protects the privacy of student education records. This law gives parents control over various aspects of their children’s educational records, including the ability to inspect, review, and correct information when necessary. It also sharply curtails schools’ ability to share student information, except in specific circumstances with other approved officials.

COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, governs the online collection of personal information for all children under the age of 13. This can clash with the classroom use of apps, and the law is a main reason why many social media sites restrict usage to children 13 or above (even if such sites aren’t diligent in enforcement).

“Privacy laws in and of themselves are very, very complex and hard to interpret,” said Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, in a recent EdTech story. In addition to FERPA, at least 120 student privacy laws have been passed in 40 states in the last six years. Schools need to ensure that any third-party vendors are protecting student information with appropriate safeguards.

Just last month, YouTube agreed to a $170 million settlement with the FTC over COPPA violations. YouTube didn’t collect personal information on users under 13, instead the company used cookies to track users who watched child-directed channels without getting parental approval, according to an EdSurge story. While the law itself is 21 years old, it was updated six years ago to regulate how websites can track personal information through cookies and geolocation data. A recent study found that the majority of 6,000 popular children’s apps could be violating the statue’s rules.

How Impero helps schools comply

Impero’s network management software helps schools follow both these laws by allowing tech teams to monitor both devices and users remotely. From pushing out software updates to endpoint security, this program simplifies network management making it easier for schools to comply with FERPA and COPPA. The Web-based interface allows administrators to conduct real-time monitoring if needed, as well as push out an update to one computer or every  machine on the district’s network. To find out more, click here to book a demo.


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