Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly

Natasha Singer, New York Times, Mar 18, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

“A teacher can sign up for anything, without the knowledge of anyone else in the district,” said Steve Young, the chief technology officer of the Judson Independent School District (in the U.S. 'independent' is a synonym for 'private'). This article has it a bit backward. It blames teachers (and to a lesser degree students) for "signing up for anything" with the result that students' privacy isn't always resepected. So, implicitly, the recommendation is to regulate what teachers can access. It sounds like a content publisher's dream, and they have the usual voices supporting it. "The Federal Trade Commission recommends that schools not delegate that decision to individual teachers. 'Companies are soliciting teachers to breach the obligations of schools,' said Joel R. Reidenberg, a professor at Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan." But wouldn't a better approach be to restrict what companies can do with people's information? After all, even if you regulate the teachers, you've still left students (and everyone else) vulnerable evenings and weekends.

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