New Markey-Hatch Federal Student Privacy Legislation is Unnecessary

SIIA today issued a press release on the introduction of the “Protecting Student Privacy Act” by Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Orin Hatch (R-Utah).

The current framework of robust federal regulations, industry best practices and binding contracts provides strong student privacy protections.  With these three layers of protection, we can give students access to revolutionary learning technology while ensuring that their information is used only for educational purposes. New federal student privacy legislation is not needed at this time.

The Markey-Hatch legislation is well-intended, but it contains provisions, such as a prohibition against the use of student information for targeted advertising, that already exist in current law and regulation. Other provisions, such as those related to data destruction, might not be workable in practice.

We share the privacy protection goals of Senators Markey and Hatch, but it’s critical to ensure that any new rules do not inadvertently create obstacles to the effective use of information. Innovative education technology is essential to improving education for all students and to ensuring U.S. economic strength in an increasingly competitive global environment.

Mark MacCarthy, Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology.

SIIA at ISTE 2014

Mark, Lindsay, and I were busy during the recent ISTE conference in Atlanta, Georgia! Our time was spent mPearson Exhibit halleeting with members, finding new members, promoting our reports, and learning about new and exciting trends in the Ed Tech Market.

The exhibit hall was packed with all sorts of companies, many of whom received a CODiEs sign to show that they were a finalist or a winner of the 2014 cycle. The exhibit hall was huge and took a team of myself and Lindsay Harman to get all of the signs out to our winners and finalists who represented a sizeable portion of the exhibitors present.

At our press conference on Sunday, the latest Vision K-20 report was released to a great turnout of industry professionals and reporters. The report was presented by Sue Cosuellins of CollinsConsults who help drive the development of the Vision K-20 initiative and Susan Meell of MMS Education who wrote the latest report. The crowd was highly responsive and asked lots of questions about the Vision K-20 report and the sneak peek findings from our upcoming testing and assessment report. John Richards of CS4Ed presented a sneak preview of a new qualitative report on testing and assessment. This report is a follow up to findings in last year’s K-12 Market Survey Report that showed a big increase in testing and assessment dollars in the market.

Most of the interviews we did were on video this year. We highlighted our work at ISTE with the help of C Blohm & Associates and did a summary interview with TouchCast. In between, there were more videos and phone interviews to further explain and clarify all of the results.

We co-sponsored the Ed tech start up pavilion and Pitch Fest competition, (both on the show floor) for the second year, which was very large and noisy. I spent much of Sunday judging the preliminary competition, then the finals early Monday morning. SIIA wants to congratulate the winners K and flexibleof this year’s competition. We were able to speak with all of the Pitch Fest competitors and learn about their companies and how they could leverage SIIA benefits.

Our Member Breakfast and Feedback Forum on Tuesday morning was also a rousing success – even for 7:00 am in the morning. The event was co-hosted with COSN and the Winter Group and drew 50 members who were able to learn from 10 educators who participated in the focus group. The topic at hand was apps in schools and educators from around the country discussed the challenges of using them in the classroom and beyond. We ended the forum by singing Happy Birthday to Charlene Blohm.

ISTE 2014 had both high registration numbers and energetic attendees. We hope to be at ISTE 2015 for another great conference and expect to see even more SIIA member companies there.


Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

SIIA Releases 2014 Vision K-20 Survey Report

SIIA releases the 2014 Vision K-20 Survey Report, its seventh annual national survey measuring U.S. educational institutions’ self-reported progress toward building a framework that embraces technology and e-learning. The findings were presented at a press event during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. The report suggests that K-20 education institutions are striving for more digital educational goals, which are increasingly reached through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.

Central findings from this year’s report include:

  • Respondents expect an increase in the use of BYOD technology.
  • Both the current and ideal level of technology integration has shown a directional increase for K-12 and postsecondary institutions, compared to 2013.
  • There is a need for increased technology integration in K-20 education.
  • Educators recognize that there is a large gap between current and ideal levels of implementation, which they aspire to fill.
  • Only 40 percent of K-12 education institutions feel prepared for upcoming online assessments.

The survey, which transitioned to a seven-point benchmarking scale this year, was distributed to nearly 1,000 educators and administrators with the help of many partner organizations – being the most prolific recruiter. SIIA also recognizes its lead partner, MMS Education, for its work on the Vision K-20 Survey analysis and report.

To view the Executive Summary of the 2014 Vision K-20 Survey Report, visit

To download the full report, visit

For more information on the 2014 Vision K-20 Survey results, contact


Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

Digital Policy Roundup

SIIA Testifies at Joint Congressional Subcommittee Hearing on Student Privacy

SIIA’s Mark MacCarthy delivered testimony on the issue of student data privacy in a joint hearing Wednesday before subcommittees of the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Homeland Security. The hearing titled “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy” featured three witnesses in addition to SIIA: Fordham University’s Professor Joel R. Reidenberg, Idaho Department of Education CIO Joyce Popp, and Alliance for Excellent Education’s Digital Learning Director Thomas Murray. SIIA advised committee members that “no new federal legislation is necessary at this time,” citing a three part system of protection – federal law (FERPA, COPPA), contracts, and industry best practices.

Alice Corp v. CLS Bank Ruling

On June 19th, the Supreme Court decided the business method patent case of Alice Corp v. CLS Bank Corp, unanimously holding that implementing an abstract idea through a general purpose computer is Ineligible for patent protection under section 101 if the Patent Act. The case involved a method for reducing the risk that the parties to a transaction will not pay what they owe. The Court has long held that abstract ideas are not patentable subject matter. Writing for the Court, Justice Thomas said that “merely requiring generic computer implementation… fails to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.” The decision would seem to have limited applicability to software patents as the term “software” does not appear in the decision and Justice Thomas acknowledges in the decision that “many computer-implemented claims are formally addressed to patent-eligible subject matter.”

OECD Committee for Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) Meets June 16-20 in Paris

CDEP is of interest because its work on digital economy issues is influential. For instance, the OECD’s 2011 Internet Policymaking Principles (IPP) and the revised 2013 OECD Privacy Guidelines are documents that are often consulted in other fora and are considered generally helpful by industry, including SIIA. The CDEP also works on Internet governance, big data, measuring the digital economy, the relationship between technology and jobs, and intellectual property. The work on intellectual property is often considered more controversial, and SIIA works to make it balanced.

Last week’s meeting focused particularly on the 2016 OECD Ministerial which will be held in April or May of 2016 in Cancun, Mexico. The Ministerial is important to the head of the organization, Angel Gurria, who is Mexican and reportedly interested in seeking a third term as Secretary-General of the OECD. The CDEP is currently considering “Digital Innovation Transforming our Societies” as the title for the Ministerial. The OECD has ambitious plans for the Ministerial and hopes to attract ministers responsible for labor and education, as well as ministers responsible for the ICT sector. The OECD has five themes for the Ministerial:

  1. Fostering new sources of growth spurred by converging networks, services and data analytics.
  2. Analyzing the effects of the digital economy on growth, jobs and skills.
  3. Developing recommendations and building evidence for Internet policy and governance.
  4. Managing the digital risks and enabling trust for continued prosperity.
  5. Looking to the future.

SIIA will be engaged in advocacy with a view to influencing work documents and the 2016 Ministerial, especially in the areas of growth, jobs and skills: Internet governance; privacy; and data analytics.

David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

SIIA Testifies Before Congress on Effective Use of Student Data; Warns that New Federal Privacy Mandates Could Put Student Learning at Risk

SIIA, today delivered testimony on the issue of student data privacy in a joint hearing before subcommittees of the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the
Committee on Homeland Security. In his prepared testimony, Mark MacCarthy, SIIA’s
Vice President of Public Policy, commented:

“From adaptive learning software to class scheduling applications to online learning, technologies are enhancing student access and opportunity…The result of advanced data management and analysis tools is the ability for school systems to better identify students at risk of failure, identify the lessons that best meet each and every student’s unique needs, inform decision making, and enhance operations.

“SIIA agrees that the obligation to safeguard student data privacy and security means that continued review and enhancements are needed in the framework of our policies, practices and technologies…However, we do not think that new federal legislation is needed at this time.

“The current legal framework and industry practices adequately protect student privacy. Moreover, new legislation creates substantial risks of harm to the innovative use of information that is essential to improving education for all students and ensuring U.S. economic strength in an increasingly competitive global environment.”

MacCarthy’s full testimony is available here.

Sabrina Eyob is the Public Policy Coordinator at SIIA. Follow the Policy team on Twitter @SIIAPolicy.

Aspen Institute Helps Light the Digital Path to Student Centered Learning in Trusted Environments

SIIA has long championed the personalization of learning, recognizing that the factory model does not adequately address student needs and that we are not leveraging the transformative power of technology. This summer is the fourth anniversary of the joint SIIA-CCSSO-ASCD summit and report Innovate to Educate: System Redesign for Personalized Learning, which provided both a vision and roadmap for the shift to a student-centered model. Yet, while the vision is strong, challenges remain. To that end, SIIA is pleased that The Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet has responded and released a series of recommendations in its new report, “Learner at the Center of a Networked World.”

According to Task Force Honorary co-chairs Jeb Bush and Rosario Dawson: “This report sets forth a vision that stems from the premise that the learner needs to be at the center of novel approaches and innovative learning networks. It argues that we need to embrace innovation to create a diverse system of educational opportunities that can help each and every child reach his or her full potential.”

To achieve that goal, the Task force describes several conditions to be collectively achieved:

  • “everyone needs affordable access to sufficiently robust networks and the opportunities they offer;”
  • “the system needs to be interoperable so that learners can seamlessly move among learning platforms, providers and networks, and have credentials that follow them;”
  • “learners need digital literacy skills to navigate these networks;”
  • “[learners] need to learn in ‘trusted environments’ that will protect children’s safety and privacy online without compromising their ability to learn;” and
  • “the myriad of institutions . . . from schools to . . .museums to . . . online course providers . . . need to adapt to be part of these learning networks . . .”

With increased attention on safeguarding student privacy and data security, SIIA especially commends the Aspen Task Force call to: “Foster collaborative efforts at all levels to establish principles of a Trusted Environment for Learning” so that “Parents should be able to trust that their children’s personally identifiable information is safe, secure and won’t be used in ways other than to help their academic progress.”

SIIA agrees with the Task Force that:

  • “To confidently pursue their learning goals, students need an environment where their safety and privacy are protected.”
  • “Data collection and use are crucial to fulfilling the vision of personalized learning, yet for some there is a lack of trust around the security and privacy of student data.”
  • “Approaches to providing safety online that are defensive and fear-based are often ineffective and can have the unintended consequence of significantly restricting learning opportunities for young people.”
  • “There is a need to explore alternative approaches that create trusted environments that protect learners’ safety, privacy and security without compromising their ability to pursue their interests.“
  • “Although technology is partly responsible for creating fear, it can be part of the solution by helping create trusted environments. But equally important is equipping learners, parents and educators with the skills to function online safely and effectively.”

SIIA is working to address many of these challenges and recommendations. [Read more...]

Sponsors Play an Integral Part of the Ed Industry Summit

Karen Billings, VP Education, SIIA

Christine Griftner, Education Consultant, SIIA

The SIIA organization wants to express our thanks to our 28 EIS sponsors once again! Without our two Host Sponsors (Promethean & 3rd Quote) or our After Party Alum & friends sponsorships, EIS would not have the dynamic panels, special speakers, meaningful side meetings, and special value for attendees that it provides. You provided the ‘get-go’ of our badges (thank you MMS!), great breakfasts (thank you C. Blohm & Associates, the Winter Group and uCertify!) and even our mid-day snacks (thank you Gaggle and EvoText!).

By Tuesday, we all wandered the Sunset Court to visit the product demonstration sponsors (thank you Young Digitial Planet, Swivl, QCSS-Greene, Learnosity, and Ed Week!) and hopped into the Technology@the Cutting Edge room featuring Qualcomm’s product team demonstrations flanked by Collabrify and Inventive Thinkers, as well as the ever-useful Charging Station (thank you BLEgroup!).

How exciting were the Incubator presentations? Thank you TextHelp for your participation once again in supporting this very important aspect of the Summit, and thanks to EDweb and MCH for supporting the online Incubator award! The Qualcomm team, notably Susan, provided an extra bonus to the 4 incubator winners, a very tech-rich TOQ smart watch. I wonder what might they bring to next year’s showcase?

Perhaps two of the most anticipated events included the 1:1 Business Connections and Speed Networking meetings; these took place at the Summit with exemplary support and planning from ABA’s Mitch Weisburgh and Educational Systemics’s Michael Jay (and team!).  Many thanks to both firms for continued support and dedication.

The conference was not complete without dynamic sessions, and we thank Intel and Pacific Metrics for their renewed support this year in hosting and monitoring presentation tracks for our Hot Topics and Tech Dev session strands.

As the excitement built, we tip our hat to our CODiE reception sponsors (ENA and GuideK12, thank you Chuck and Lil), and move right into the CODiE dinner! Thank you so much to our sponsors, CollegeBoard (SpringBoard), Monarch Teaching Technologies, and Victory Productions, for a fast-paced award ceremony both on and off the stage guided along creatively by our own Frank Catalano. We are grateful to have JDL sponsor the LIVE feed for our awards (and so much more). And to top off the evening, an After Party was hosted by a group of 20 SIIA Board Alum and Friends! The party was a great way to acknowledge some of the people who have been supportive of SIIA over the years.

Finally, as the conference began to wind down, we thank the team at College Board (Springboard) for our Wednesday closing lunch. The conference once again brought new groups and longstanding participants to the beautiful venue of The Palace. It was a whirlwind three days and the SIIA staff seemed to be everywhere, bringing yet another very successful event to fruition.


Sponsors ABA and College Board with CODiE Award winner Promethean



Sponsors Victory Productions and Monarch Teaching Technologies with CODiE Award winner McGraw-Hill Education



Sponsors and MCH with Educator’s Choice Award winner in the Innovation Incubator Program



Sponsor  TextHELP with winner of Most Innovative Solution in the Innovation Incubator Program



CODiE sponsor ENA with Host Frank Catalano opening the envelop to announce a winner



Sponsor 3rd Quote introducing the Plenary Session At the Ed Industry Summit



Sponsor College Board providing Welcome Remarks at the closing luncheon



CODiE Sponsor Guide K12 announcing an Award winner at the Gala


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