COPPA & Change… #EdublogsClub

**Update**

As of May 25, 2018 Screencastify updated their Privacy Policy responding to the GDPR. I would like to congratulate Screencastify for the leaps and bounds they have made in protecting user data, especially in regards to students. Check out their posting about the accolades they have received and updates they have made.


*Update* I am re-posting this as part of the #EdublogsClub week 8 prompt.

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about student privacy.
Some helpful notes:

  • Should student work be public on the web? Why or why not?
  • How do you evaluate the tools that you use in your classroom when it comes to student privacy?
  • Do you have a favorite resource or video that discusses this topic
  • Do you have tips or rules that you use with your students relating to identifiable information?
  • Do you have any other ideas, rants, or questions about student privacy you wish to discuss?

Originally posted: Dec. 1, 2015
***Disclaimer – I, in no uncertain terms, claim to be an expert on Federal Law and Regulations***

COPPA which stands for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is meant to protect students online from knowingly or unknowingly giving out personal information (full, formal name; address; etc.). It went into law in 2000 and is designed for websites to either not allow users under the age of 13 or parent permission must be given for their services to be used. Some great webtools have been removed from students’ use or teachers have had to create accounts with no identifiable student information (i.e. google +1 email hack)

One tool which I find useful but fell into the category of users under 13 were forbidden was Screencastify.  Working in a 1:1 middle school with chromebooks, the Screencastify Extension would be easy to use tool for students to create multimedia presentations. Their Privacy Policy stated:

Our Services are not intended for and may not be used by children under the age of 13. We do not knowingly collect information from children under the age of 13 and we do not target our Services to children under the age of 13.

But, it did have this key line after it: “If you have questions about our Service, please contact us at info@screencastify.com So I thought, why not? I reached out to them and found Manuel, or Manu as he signed his emails, very responsive and wanted to make sure their tool worked for schools. We communicated back and forth for about 2½ weeks till they had an updated policy which included the above statement, plus:

Educators that have the authority to act on parent’s behalf, may allow students under 13 to use our Services, if such use is for educational purposes, and if this use ensures that students will not provide any personal information and will not share or otherwise distribute recordings containing personal information of a student.

Thank you, Manu & Screencastify for being willing to allow your tool to be used for educational purposes while remaining COPPA compliant.

So my big takeaway from this experience, reach out! I sent an email and asked a question which had two potential outcomes: no, we won’t change our policy or yes, let’s explore this!  If Screencastify said no, I would have been in the same position I was before sending the email.  Yet, they said yes and I now have two grade levels in my building which can utilize a tool for creation purposes.

Do you have a tool which you can’t use with your students? Have you ever tried reaching out to them? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section. 

“What Is COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act )? – Definition from WhatIs.com.” SearchCRM. 1 May 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. <http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/COPPA>.

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