The Federal Trade Commission launched a new policy statement to safeguard children’s data. Ed Tech companies are collecting more data on children than they need. This is a direct breach of the children’s privacy rights.
The new policy statement will hold Ed-Tech companies accountable for misusing data collection. There have been many instances of companies collecting data to “heighten” user experience and then selling it to advertisers.
What is the new FTC policy?
FTC observed that the Ed Tech brands were forcing parents and schools to comply with commercial surveillance. Parents and Schools had no say in the matter. If they wanted their child to have access to educational content, commercial surveillance was a mandatory add-on.
Therefore, FTC came up with a new policy to safeguard the data of children. The new policy instructs the Ed Tech companies to stop collecting unnecessary data in the name of improving user experience.
They can only collect what is strictly necessary for the services to function without any problem. Moreover, they need to comply with COPPA rules which direct how a company can conduct data collection.
“Students must be able to do their schoolwork without surveillance by companies looking to harvest their data to pad their bottom line. Parents should not have to choose between their children’s privacy and their participation in the digital classroom. The FTC will be closely monitoring this market to ensure that parents are not being forced to surrender to surveillance for their kids’ technology to turn on,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
COPPA rules state that Ed-Tech companies cannot force children to provide more personal data than they need. The companies must refrain from misusing the data for any monetary gain. It includes selling personal data for marketing and advertising purposes to the highest bidders.
In addition, COPPA rules say that the companies must not retain children’s data or personal information for longer than is necessary. There are also rules for security requirements which makes it the responsibility of the Ed Tech companies to secure the stored information.
If the companies fail to comply with COPPA rules, they would have to pay high civil fines and face penalties. FTC’s new policy will keep all these companies in check which indulge in child personality profiling and selling the data.