Response to Fordham Study on K-12 Privacy and Cloud Computing

Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) CEO Keith Krueger today issued the following statement in response to the Fordham University Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy recent study, “Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools”:

“The new research by Fordham should be a wakeup call by educators, policymakers and the vendor community around privacy of data, particularly in a cloud computing environment. ‘Data governance’ must be a priority in school systems. And, school leaders, especially those in charge of selecting and managing cloud computing solutions, need to understand what both the law requires and what is best practice in ensuring privacy of student records. The vendor community needs to get serious about ensuring that the solutions they offer to education are compliant with privacy laws and that the contracts and terms of service are clear, specific and transparent about the collection, use, protection, sharing of data, with noted concern for advertiser supported services. In addition, policymakers need to do a much better job making privacy laws and policies clear and understandable. The bottom line is that transparency must be at the heart of data governance.

“While ensuring privacy, we also must keep in mind the benefits of data, particularly in a cloud environment. Data offer the potential to personalize learning, inform instruction and offer real-time feedback to students and teachers, and cloud solutions ensure that information is available when and where it is needed for learning and informing instruction. But to reach that potential, educators must understand the legal, as well as the expectations of parents and the community that data are protected from inappropriate usage.

“Therefore, CoSN is leading an effort to address this critical issue and partnering with Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Just last month, we convened a group of key education stakeholders around privacy in a cloud environment. Based on that input, CoSN and Berkman will be developing a forthcoming school district privacy toolkit that will provide resources to make informed policy decisions on the use of cloud services. Our goal is to help education leaders harness the benefits of data while protecting student privacy – and that will require increasing the knowledge and professional development of educators, the vendor community and policymakers. This is not simply a matter of compliance, but one of raising the bar for data governance.”