Washington (March 24, 2020) — Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Education (ED) requesting the agencies issue joint guidance to education technology (ed tech) companies and parents to protect student privacy during the coronavirus pandemic. As schools across the county have closed, millions of students are engaging in “distance learning,” using ed tech platforms from their homes. However, experts point to inadequate privacy safeguards in the ed tech industry, and in 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a Public Service Announcement warning that malicious use of data collected by ed tech could result in “social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children.”
“Parents across the United States are grappling with the vast complications this pandemic has for their children. Those parents should not have to worry about the misuse or vulnerability of their child’s personal information when they log-on and learn remotely,” write the Senators in their letter to Education Secretary Besty DeVos and FTC Chairman Joseph Simmons. “Issuing guidance is critical to protecting students’ online privacy during the current national emergency.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
In their letter, the Senators recommend that guidance to ed tech companies include:
The Senators also recommend that guidance to parents include the following:
Senators Durbin, Markey, and Blumenthal previously sent letters to top ed tech companies inquiring about data collection practices on American students.