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FTC and Department of Education to Co-Host Workshop and Webcast on Privacy Issues in Education Technology

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will co-host a live workshop on December 1, 2017 highlighting two intersecting regulatory regimes: the FTC’s rules implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which applies to K-12 schools and to children under the age of 13, and the simultaneous application of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which also applies to schools and is administered by ED.

Both agencies have previously provided guidance regarding the application of these rules. In 2015, the FTC published an FAQ determining, for instance, that under certain circumstances schools may act as intermediaries between education technology providers and parents when consenting to student data collection, disclosure, or use. In 2014, ED’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center issued guidance describing the regulatory requirements and best practices to protect student privacy in online educational services.

To aid their analysis, assist implementation, and promote a full understanding of these regulations, the agencies specifically invite comments on issues including:

  • Are the joint requirements of FERPA and COPPA sufficiently understood when Ed Tech providers collect personal information from students?

  • Under what circumstances is it appropriate for a school to provide consent under COPPA and what is the process for properly obtaining the consent?

  • How should requirements concerning notice, deletion, and retention of records be handled and by whom and when?

  • COPPA and FERPA both limit the use of personal information collected from students by education tech vendors. What are the appropriate limits on the use of this data?

  • How do schools maintain “direct control” over education tech providers when they rely on the “school official exception” to FERPA’s general consent requirement?

Comments can be submitted online until November 17, 2017, and are likely to guide the workshop agenda. We will post the agenda, speakers, and related supplementary materials when they become available on the event webpage. Instructions and guidelines for comment submission may be found in the FTC’s detailed public notice regarding this joint workshop.

This workshop is free, open to the public, and will be simulcast on the FTC’s website from the event space at the Constitution Center, 400 7th St. SW, Washington, D.C.

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About this Author

Katherine Armstrong, Drinker Biddle Law Firm, Washington DC, Data Privacy Attorney

Katherine E. Armstrong is counsel in the firm’s Government & Regulatory Affairs Practice Group where she focuses her practice on data privacy issues, including law enforcement investigations, and research and analysis of big data information practices including data broker issues.

Katherine has more than 30 years of consumer protection experience at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where she served in a variety of roles, including most recently as a Senior Attorney in the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.  In the Division of...