Parents Across America told the FTC: Don’t weaken student privacy. You can too

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) needs to hear from parents: We want our children’s privacy protected. The FTC may bow under the pressure of Big Tech and weaken COPPA regulations. COPPA is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, originally passed in 1998. Its purpose is to ensure online privacy protections for children under the age of 13 and it should be strengthened, not weakened. Parents Across America submitted the following comments to the FTC and we urge you to submit your own.

The deadline to submit comments to the FTC is December 9th.

Please submit your comments to the FTC here.

You can get more information on COPPA and sign on to the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood’s Letter to the FTC here.

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy provides more information on COPPA and sample comments for you to submit to the FTC here.

To the FTC:

Student data is being collected at extraordinarily high rates and Parents Across America is calling on the FTC to strengthen, not weaken, COPPA regulations, increase enforcement of existing COPPA Rules, and better protect student privacy.

Parents are increasingly concerned about the lack of informed consent they’re given when it comes to the apps their children are using in their school work. They need the FTC to advocate for the best interests of children, not the bottom lines of EdTech companies.

Current COPPA regulations don’t do nearly enough to protect the data of children under the age of 13. Parents want COPPA to better protect their children’s school-generated data by requiring all app, software, service, platform, and device providers to publicly and prominently share how they protect student data.

The amount of student data collected by vendors is staggering and it’s worrisome to parents. COPPA regulations should require EdTech companies to only collect the data that is needed to operate their products. In addition, these companies should never share student data with third party vendors without the informed consent of parents or use it for advertising and commercial development purposes.

Under the COPPA Rule, parents should have the right to access, review, and delete any data collected on their children by schools and EdTech companies. Furthermore, sensitive, personal data regarding a child’s behavior, health conditions, disabilities, geolocation, and biometrics must be protected under COPPA. In order to further protect children’s privacy, COPPA should require school systems to annually delete all non-essential student data.

The COPPA Rule must require transparency when it comes to the apps, services, and devices school systems provide to students. Parents should be made fully aware of the intent for their use, reasons for approving them, and each company’s terms of service and privacy and security protections.

The FTC should ramp up its investigations of school districts and vendors that excessively collect student data, inappropriately disclose it or re-purpose it, or use it for non-educational purposes.  Many online services and apps pretend to be for children 13 and older so that they will not have to comply with COPPA.  Any school system that provides products recommended for children 13 and older to students under that age should be sanctioned.

The use of facial recognition software in schools is troubling to parents and any update to the COPPA Rule should address the issues inherent in this type of student surveillance. This technology is biased and inaccurate and fosters discrimination and racial profiling which contributes to the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline.

Parents should be able to send their children to school and feel they’re safe and protected there. This includes protecting their privacy from commercial and corporate interests and their data from hacks and breaches. Parents Across America recommends dramatically curtailing the amount of data school systems collect on students; if data isn’t collected, it can’t be used for commercial or nefarious purposes.

Parents Across America is asking the FTC to stay true to its purpose by protecting our nation’s children from the misuse and theft of their personal data. Please show your commitment to the safety and well-being of children by strengthening and enforcing the COPPA Rule.

Sincerely, 

Laura Bowman 

Board of Directors 

Parents Across America

Posted on by Laura Bowman Posted in Misc

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