December 12th, 2013
Schools Use Web Tools, and Data Is Seen at Risk
By NATASHA SINGER
Public schools around the country are adopting web-based services that collect and analyze personal details about students without adequately safeguarding the information from potential misuse by service providers, according to new research.
A study, which is expected to be released on Friday, by the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School in New York, found weaknesses in the protection of student information in the contracts that school districts sign when outsourcing web-based tasks to service companies.
Many contracts, the study found, failed to list the type of information collected while others did not prohibit vendors from selling personal details — like names, contact information or health status — or using that information for marketing purposes.
“We found that when school districts are transferring student information to cloud service providers, by and large key privacy protections are absent from those arrangements,” said Joel R. Reidenberg, a law professor at Fordham who led the study. “We’re worried about the implications for students over time, how their personal information may be used or misused.”