Privacy In Education


In the U.S., student privacy has been getting a lot of attention from the media and legislators. Privacy issues surrounding the collection and use of student data — both within higher ed and K-12 institutions — have grown with the advent of big data, education technology and efforts towards creating state and national databases of educational information.

On this topic page, the IAPP has pulled together some tools and resources to help organizations make sense of the regulations and keep track of the issues at the forefront of student privacy. The IAPP Resource Center also includes a “Children’s Privacy” topic page, which can be accessed here.

Featured Resources

Privacy and Data Protection in Academia

Universities around the world are adding privacy curricula in their law, business and computer science schools. The IAPP’s Westin Research Center has catalogued these programs with the aim of promoting, catalyzing and supporting academia’s growing efforts to build an on-ramp to the privacy profession.
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US schools and control over ed tech providers

Schwarz Group Managing Partner Joel Schwarz, CIPP/G, writes portions of FERPA are outdated, particularly as ed tech providers today gather “enormous amounts of data, often without anyone’s knowledge.” More effective, transparent control is needed, he said.
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Scholar Awards

The IAPP has created a fund to support students who are identified by their professors as future leaders in the field of privacy or data protection. Participating professors will each select one student who will be awarded a Westin Scholar Award.
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Latest News and Resources

FTC's edtech vote brings consensus, dispute among commissioners

There has been curiosity about how long it would take the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to delve into privacy matters once it had a full bench of commissioners and a Democratic majority. The answer took only three days as the agenda for the first public session following the swearing in of Alvaro Bedoya as the fifth and final FTC commissioner led off with a privacy vote. Surprisingly, FTC Chair Lina Khan did not see a party line vote on this first action with the full bench as commissioners vot... Read More

Study finds 96% of apps used in US schools share student personal information

In the U.S., 96% of applications used in schools share student personal information with third parties, CyberScoop reports, citing a study conducted by Internet Safety Labs. The data is shared with advertisers often without informing or obtaining consent from students or the schools, the study found. Internet Safety Lab researchers examined 13 schools in each state for a total of 663 schools, with a total student population of approximately 500,000. Schools typically had more than 150 “approved ... Read More

CNIL launches ‘sandbox’ supporting digital innovation in education

France’s data protection authority, the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés, launched a new “sandbox” supporting digital innovation in the education sector. The five winning digital tools will receive enhanced support from the CNIL in 2022. “The implementation of this ‘sandbox’ will allow a better appropriation, by the education sector, of the GDPR compliance issues, necessary for the development of offers that respect privacy in the context of public contracts,” the CNIL said... Read More

CDT — Responsible Technology Training Series for Education Practitioners
(Center for Democracy and Technology, January 2022)
Sharing Student Data Across Public Sectors
(Center for Democracy and Technology, December 2021)
Data Quality Campaign: Education Data Legislation Review
(Data Quality Campaign, December 2021)
When Schools Share Data with Afterschool Programs
(Future of Privacy Forum, September 2021)
Op-ed: Student opt-out mechanisms may lead to unfair bias
(IAPP, September 2021)
Back to school tips for playing it safe online
(Privacy Commissioner of Canada, September 2021)
Online and Observed: Student Privacy Implications of School-Issued Devices and Student Activity Monitoring Software
(Center for Democracy and Technology, September 2021)
Cybersecurity Best Practices Can Help School Staff Safeguard Student Data
(Center of Democracy and Technology, August 2021)
The Privacy and Equity Implications of Using Self-Harm Monitoring Technologies: Recommendations for Schools
(Future of Privacy Forum, August 2021)
CDT: Steps to Protect Student Privacy & Support Equity in the New School Year
(Center for Democracy and Technology, July 2021)
FERPA: Guidance for Students and Parents
(U.S. Department of Education, July 2021)
Web Conference: At a Distance and In Your Home: Remote Learning’s Possibilities (and Pitfalls)
(IAPP, May 2021)
Safeguarding Student Data in Higher Education
(Data Quality Campaign, May 2021)
Adult education students’ grades, private information compromised in breach
(IAPP, February 2021)
Law Enforcement Access to Student Records: A Guide for School Administrators & Ed Tech Service Providers
(Future of Privacy Forum, December 2020)
Privacy guidance and resources for schools during COVID-19
(IAPP, December 2020)
CDT Report: Protecting Students’ Privacy and Advancing Digital Equity
(Center for Democracy and Technology, October 2020)
The case for privacy education in K–12
(IAPP, October 2020)
GAO Report — K-12 data breaches show that students are vulnerable to harm
(U.S. Government Accountability Office, October 2020)
Troubling Clouds: Gaps affecting privacy protection in British Columbia’s K–12 education
(BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, September 2020)
Georgia Tech creates School of Cybersecurity
(IAPP, September 2020)
Colleges balance privacy, transparency in releasing COVID-19 data
(IAPP, August 2020)
Norwegian DPA calls for national strategy on privacy in schools
(IAPP, August 2020)
Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions
(FTC, July 2020)
GDPR: Analysis and Guidance for US Higher Education Institutions
(Future of Privacy Forum, March 2020)
A Practical Guide to Better Edtech Buying for Educators
(Society for Technology in Education, March 2020)
Vetting EdTech Tools — Making Sure It’s Not “Too Good To Be True”
(Student Data Privacy Consortium, March 2020)
Researchers say tool can check COPPA compliance
(IAPP, July 2020)
US Dept. of Education on FERPA procedures amidst crisis
(IAPP, March 2020)
COPPA Guidance for Ed Tech Companies and Schools during the Coronavirus
(FTC, February 2020)
Privacy Literacy: From Theory to Practice
(Penn State, February 2020)
Enhancing Privacy Education with a Technical Emphasis in IT Curriculum
(Kennesaw State University, February 2020)
School Safety & Privacy: An Animated Introduction
(Future of Privacy Forum, February 2020)
Privacy Law and the First-Year Law School Curriculum
(Kirk Nahra, March 2020)
Without Consent: An analysis of student directory information practices in U.S. schools, and impacts on privacy
(World Privacy Forum, March 2020)
Advocates say distance learning threatens student privacy
(IAPP, April 2020)
ICO issues reprimands to schools over improper use of children’s images
(IAPP, March 2020)
A closer look at Carnegie Mellon’s privacy engineering program
(IAPP, September 2019)
Data Sharing & Privacy Demands In Education
(Center for Democracy and Technology, August 2019)
Algorithmic Systems in Education: Incorporating Equity and Fairness When Using Student Data
(Center for Democracy and Technology, August 2019)
Protecting Privacy While Supporting Students Who Change Schools
(Center for Democracy & Technology, July 2019)
What does the CCPA mean for colleges and universities?
(IAPP, March 2019)
NY bill would postpone facial recognition in schools
(IAPP, June 2019)
FPF releases resources on school safety and student privacy
(Future of Privacy Forum, June 2019)
A Parent’s Guide to Student Privacy
(Center for Democracy and Technology, August 2019)
The State Student Privacy Report Card
(Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and the Network for Public Education, June 2019)
White Paper – Consent for the Collection, Use, and/or Disclosure of Children’s Personal Information
(IAPP, April 2018)
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule: A Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business
(FTC, August 2017)
Infographic: How To Get Started in Privacy Law
(IAPP, March 2017)
COPPA in the Classroom
(IAPP, May 2014)
View More Resources

Remote and Online Education

U.S. Federal Legislation

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998

A U.S. federal law that applies to the operators of commercial websites and online services that are directed to children under the age of 13. It also applies to general audience websites and online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. COPPA requires these website operators: to post a privacy notice on the homepage of the website; provide notice about collection practices to parents; obtain verifiable parental consen... Read More

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

FERPA establishes requirements regarding the privacy protection of student educational records.  It applies to all academic institutions that receive funds under applicable U.S. Department of Education programs.  FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records.  These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.  Students to whom the rights have transferred are referred to as “eligible ... Read More