Protecting students’ online privacy must be a top priority. Here’s how you do it.

The shift to online learning has raised new concerns about students’ online privacy and protection. EdSource’s Sydney Johnson has put together a brief guide summarizing some of those concerns and outlining ways that parents and school officials can safeguard our children.

Several years ago, California passed the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act. The law makes it a crime for companies that provide online school services to sell or market using student data. If the school district requests it, companies must delete that information. The 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act expands those protections to include non-educational platforms like Zoom.

Teachers have legal requirements they must abide by. They should not be uploading recorded classroom videos to the internet, for example. But breach of student privacy isn’t always within the teachers’ immediate control.

One trend that has been garnering a lot of attention lately is so-called Zoom bombing, where hackers flood a video conferencing session with unwanted and often obscene material. Johnson addresses this point in her article.

To keep uninvited attendees out, teachers can check to see if their video service allows for password-protected meetings so others can’t join in if they find (or guess) the meeting ID number. Zoom recently updated its video settings to require a password by default to enter a meeting. The password settings are locked for free K-12 education Zoom accounts and cannot be turned off. Another important tip: Schools should set expectations early, such as making it clear that using a cell phone to take a video of an in-class video session is a violation of school policy.

Johnson adds that teachers should choose media platforms that have already been vetted and should avoid creating consumer accounts, opting for an education account instead.

Parents have a role to play too. Among other things, California privacy law allows them to request that companies delete their child’s information and/or to stop selling their information if they have reason to suspect that’s occurring.

Want to learn more about protecting students’ privacy? Read the full article from EdSource.