New Study of School Websites Reveals Widespread Online Security and Privacy Issues

According to a new study released today by EdTech Strategies, Tracking: EDU – Education Agency Website Security and Privacy Practices, state and local education agency websites were found to lack important security and privacy protections for students, families, and educators. “State department of education and school district websites have become indispensable for accessing information about public schools and to communicating with school officials,” said Douglas Levin, president of EdTech Strategies and study director. “However, analyses of education agency websites suggest a widespread lack of attention to issues of online security and privacy.”

Based on automated and manual reviews conducted over 4 months (between October 2017 and January 2018) of every state department of education websiteand a nationwide sample of 159 school district websites, Tracking: EDU found that:

The use of third-party ad tracking and online surveillance technology was found to be nearly universal on both state and local education agency websites; well over 40 unique tracking services were identified in the limited scans conducted by this study.

While 63 percent of state education agency websites published a privacy policy that disclosed the presence and use of ad tracking and/or cookies on their sites, no fewer than 10 states made misleading or provably false statements about their data collection and privacy practices. School district practices were found to be even more concerning: only 12 percent of school district websites published a privacy policy that disclosed the presence and use of ad tracking and/or cookies on their sites.

School administrators, technology directors, and education policymakers are encouraged to act swiftly to address the issues raised by this first-of-its-kind study. “Partnerships with online advertising companies on school websites must be disclosed,” said Douglas Levin. “The cost of seeking news and information about your state and community’s public schools should not be your privacy or online safety.”

About EdTech Strategies
EdTech Strategies, LLC, is a boutique consultancy focused on providing strategic research and counsel on issues at the intersection of education, public policy, technology, and innovation. For more information: https://www.edtechstrategies.com.

Source: EdTech Strategies

About the author: Dissent