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Protecting Student Data Privacy as a Guiding EdTech Principle

Within K-12 education, there is no greater priority than student welfare. Student welfare is the mission that brought so many of us to the space. Everything else pales in comparison.

Student welfare, of course, is comprised of many elements, including teaching and learning, student mental health, student safety, and, importantly, student data privacy. Without the absolute highest standards in place across the spectrum, learning environments are adversely affected.

While never far from being top of mind for school district leadership and parents, recent news has brought the issue of student data privacy to even greater prominence. Last month, a lawsuit was filed by California parents alleging another online monitoring software company illegally collected students’ personal data, including location data, without their consent and sold it to third-party vendors.

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Complying with CIPA & COPPA While Still Protecting Student Data Privacy

In using the internet in classrooms, the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires schools to monitor students’ online activity and educate them about appropriate behavior on the internet. However, to achieve CIPA compliance, districts must adopt an Internet Safety Policy (ISP) that utilizes web content filtering technology to protect students from harmful online content while ensuring the security of their personal information as mandated by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA).

COPPA applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction about children under 13 years of age. Simply, the act details what website and application operators must include in privacy policies, when and how to seek verifiable consent from parents and/or guardians, and operators’ responsibilities to protect children’s privacy and safety online, including restrictions on marketing to those under the age of 13.

As a pioneer in the edtech space, Lightspeed Systems has always been at the forefront of protecting student data privacy with its entire suite of products, including its industry-leading Lightspeed Filter™. As a company, we understand the importance of privacy to our online visitors, to schools who register for our services, and to the students and staff whose information we may access on behalf of a School. Our Privacy Policy and Trust Page detail the following commitments:

  • We will always be transparent in the data we collect and how it is used.
  • We will practice data minimization and only collect the data that is necessary for the solutions and functions the school has purchased/contracted.
  • We will always treat that data with the utmost security and privacy.
  • We will never sell student personal information; we will never share it without the software license holders written authorization, and we will never use it to attempt to sell advertising to students.

Lightspeed Systems fully complies with COPPA and students are not allowed to sign up for any of our solutions. Student accounts are provided only through a verified educator, school, or educational organization. Additionally, schools agree to obtain and maintain all necessary rights and consents, including consents required by COPPA, either from an end user, such as students or staff, or, where necessary, students’ parents or legal guardians, to allow Lightspeed to provide and improve the Lightspeed Systems’ solutions and collect and receive user data to provide the services.

Lightspeed Systems meets the following guidelines listed below and agrees to:

  • NOT collect online contact information without the consent of either a parent or a qualified educator or educational institution.
  • NOT collect personally identifiable offline contact information.
  • NOT distribute to third parties, other than government officials, any personally identifiable information without prior parental consent.
  • NOT entice by the prospect of a special game, prize, or other activity or to divulge more information than is needed to participate in the activity.
  • NOT use or disclose student information for behavioral targeting of advertisements to students.
  • NOT build a personal profile of a student other than for supporting authorized educational/school purposes.

For more details on our COPPA compliance, please review our COPPA Notice.

Finally, Lightspeed Systems is a Student Data Privacy Consortium signatory, and has signed the Student Privacy Pledge.

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Lightspeed Systems Leads the Way in Both Student Data Privacy and Performance

Designed specifically for the needs of K-12 schools, Lightspeed Filter delivers simple out-of-the-box compliance with CIPA and allows school districts to build comprehensive policies based on existing roster groups to selectively allow or block content and set parameters for safe search, read-only social media, unknown content, and more. By effectively blocking obscene material on any device—even school-owned mobile devices used off the school network—Lightspeed Filter enables schools to meet CIPA’s requirements and other student internet safety regulations.

Lightspeed Filter also caters to the needs of parents and guardians with its built-in Lightspeed Parent Portal™, empowering them with insights into their child’s internet usage on school devices and providing controls to manage digital activity and screen time at home. Districts can selectively give parents/guardians the ability to temporarily pause web browsing, restrict access to YouTube and social media, and access detailed reporting.

Lightspeed Digital Insight has been built to help schools meet regulations and save time while managing third-party policies. It is the only edtech management tool to provide policy scanning with change notifications, side-by-side versions, and highlighted changes, so leaders can proactively protect students’ personally identifiable information (PII) from getting into the wrong hands.

Additionally, leaders gain a comprehensive overview of applications used on their district’s network and devices, across all operating systems, and identify apps that need to be reviewed, ensuring teachers safely pilot applications and get visibility into what is approved.

Moreover, application screening processes are enhanced with Lightspeed Digital Insight’s integrated 1EdTech and Student Data Privacy Consortium badges. These badges offer transparency into app usage across multiple schools and ensure compliance with COPPA and other data privacy regulations such as GDPR and FERPA.

Providing Children with Safe Environments to Learn

Education is one of the most critical aspects of our society today, and Lightspeed Systems is uniquely positioned to make a positive impact on the entire population of global learners.

We do more than serve over 28,000 schools in 42 different countries. Most importantly, the company is passionately committed to the over 20 million students we consider to be our primary customers.

Lightspeed Systems has an obligation to make education more accessible, easier to attain, and more likely to drive positive outcomes. It begins with catering to the full needs of students, including their well-being. And the first step is steadfastly protecting their data privacy.