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CHIPS Articles: Distance Learning precautions to take for Children’s Privacy Protection

Distance Learning precautions to take for Children’s Privacy Protection
By CHIPS Magazine - April 13, 2020
“Social distancing,” “shelter-in-place,” “virtual happy hour” – these are some of the new idioms resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. For many kids, parents, and teachers, “remote learning” or “distance learning” are now the norm and part of the challenges in these difficult times.

Because of coronavirus-related school closures, millions of students are now learning from home. For parents who are concerned about the privacy and security of their children’s personal data while they’re learning online, the Federal Trade Commission offers guidance for keeping America’s kids safe while learning online.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) generally requires websites and online services to get consent from parents before collecting personal information from kids younger than 13.

If your child’s school is providing remote learning, under COPPA, schools can consent on behalf of parents to the collection of student personal information by educational technology services. If your school has consented, then the service may only use that information for educational – not commercial – purposes, an FTC attorney advises.

If you have questions about a service’s privacy and security practices, first review its online privacy notice. If you still have questions, consider asking your school.

If you would like to learn more, view the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office’s new guidance about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – “FERPA and Virtual Learning.”

If you are looking for other online learning opportunities for your child, in addition to those from school sources, the FTC says to be sure to review the service’s privacy and security policies. Look for services that clearly explain their data collection and use policies.

This is also an excellent time have a frank discussion with your child about how to stay safe online. Talk about things like the importance of using strong passwords and the implications and consequences of posting or sharing personal information online.

The FTC has guidance for parents to help keep kids safe online, including ways to avoid child identity theft and what to do if it happens.

Keep America’s children safe online, go to for additional resources.

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