Why academic institutions need to pay more attention to data privacy

Why academic institutions need to pay more attention to data privacy

In today’s digital knowledge economy, data is an asset; and assets need protection. Frameworks that are built upon compliances, as well as laws that are put in place around educational data integrity are not simply imperative but a “must-have” in keeping up with the exponential pace with which the knowledge dissipation has evolved, and the digital push the education industry in general has achieved. Though school management software systems provide the last mile connectivity to the inherent disconnect that came in the way of how the educational eco-system thrived, concerns around student data security need timely addressing.

With the internet boom, the barrier of connectivity has long been surpassed. Educational videos, materials of relevance, live guidance, past performance scores, access to discussion forums etc., are now available on your fingertips through state-of-the-art academic management software. We live in a fast-paced world where speed brings its own set of boons and risks.


Why academic institutions need to pay more attention to data privacy

What can possibly go wrong?

Data theft and its implication on today’s education system is underestimated. For many, educational data isn’t sensitive like the financial data of a bank or credit union or some other financial institution, neither it is time-critical like the healthcare data of a provider, which can be held hostage against ransomware. Claims data of an insurance company can be reaped in so many ways by if it is in the wrong hands. So, is it even worth protecting or putting student or an institution’s data under proper checks and controls?

Let’s think diverse and assume that a data breach on an educational database happens, who can be behind it and what can possibly be the motive.

Recently, a school administration management software company in the U.S. suffered a data breach which made the information of 19,000 students public. Names, e-mail addresses and academic grade information was in the open for everyone to see. Although financial information and social security information wasn’t revealed, future attacks can’t ensure the same when a similar data breach attempt is made on academic management systems software or an educational institution in general.


Why academic management systems are crucial in deciding the future of education

School administration management software company in the U.S. suffered a data breach

Educational institutions play the most important role in a student’s educational life. A student’s interactions with his school and college garner maximum touch points throughout his educational journey than with any other entity throughout. Educational management software encompassing and capturing important information throughout the touchpoints make it a favourite target for hackers to find loopholes.

Laws, guidelines and frameworks around the handling of student data are declared by governments of many countries. COPPA (Federal Trade Council), FERPA (Student Privacy Act), COPPA (Safe harbour Act), along with legislations passed by many other states aim at closing possible gaps that might compromise data integrity of their young citizens.

These laws govern all digital agencies/ mediums dissipating information through and under U.S. jurisdiction; hosted on servers in the US, websites with owners headquartered in US or commercial websites available in US market; put effective controls through legalities that make it compulsory for all digital agencies (websites or school management systems giving services through cloud) to:

- Disclose the purpose of collecting the information; along with an undertaking that the same won’t be used for purposed other than mentioned.
- Needful parental consent be obtained for capturing, archiving and disclosure of the information; put proper checks and controls to maintain and establish the PII from the child.
- PII to be disclosed only for authorised purposes and uses described under law.


YouTube has recently been fined up to $200 Million for Children’s Privacy Violations

“YouTube has recently been fined up to $200 Million for Children’s Privacy Violations by the Federal Trade Commission on accounts that range from Illegal data mining practices w.r.t child data to failure to obtain parental consent.”

GDPR in the European Union puts in to practice the personal information collection practices of any digital agency or more specifically, for software serving educational institutes such as school management software systems - by putting provisions to the withdrawal of consent for making any further use of the data.


GDPR in the European Union puts in to practice the personal information collection practices of any digital agency

How can school management systems contribute in safe-guarding student data, thus ensuring student privacy?

School management software systems have now become central to all the activities of an educational institution. For effectively carrying out it’s intended actions, an academic management software needs access to PII of its students.

While stepping up the data security of your student data, an educational institution must start with choosing a robust school management software that has inbuilt mechanisms to protect sensitive information. Secondly, the institute must bring into practice authorised access of information throughout all processes of the school. Thirdly, a tight vigil must be kept on who is accessing what information along with educating the users about social engineering and ways in which possible data breaches are conducted.

Besides ensuring safety and integrity of their student data, regulations bring in a greater degree of a level playing field between all stake holders who are in some way dealing with student data and the way in which the data is being utilised. School management software systems through their depth in ICT bring the same recommendations to life through their effective implementation.

Educational institutions through the effective usage of the best school management software must implement the nationwide frameworks along with looking out for innovative ways in which Data theft can be checked in all formats along with maintaining greater data integrity.

About the Eduwonka blog

We believe that schools are better off when they understand their academic data. Our blog showcases those using data to build better academic experiences for parents, students and teachers.

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