The following statement can be attributed to Sara Kloek, Vice President, Education and Children’s Policy, Software & Information Industry Association:
The ed tech industry strongly supports efforts to expand opportunities for students to learn and access information, and to help ensure protection of student privacy within the walls of the classroom and when learning remotely. We appreciate the efforts of privacy advocates, researchers, regulators, and journalists over the years to continue to hold industry accountable as the ways students learn continues to evolve. We are proud of efforts across the industry to meet this critical responsibility.
A new report from Human Rights Watch shines light on the importance of protecting the privacy of student personal information. There is a strong framework of laws in the United States that provides the guardrails for technology provider protections on student data privacy, including a ban on targeted advertising to students. While we applaud the intentions of the report, our review of some of the findings reflects potentially meaningful flaws in HRW’s methodology. For example, in some cases HRW analyzed customer-facing websites designed for adults instead of the educational platforms used by students. In those cases, the educational products that students use did not actually include the trackers and cookies outlined in the report.
We urge HRW to reexamine the basis for the findings in the report and issue an amended report that accurately reflects the practices and use of ed tech products. We remain committed to supporting meaningful efforts to ensure that all students have access to educational tools designed to help each individual learner succeed while continuing to uphold our responsibility to protect children’s privacy.