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Protecting Students’ Online Privacy: An FTC & ED Joint Workshop on EdTech

On Friday, December 1, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Education hosted a workshop examining student privacy in the burgeoning field of “EdTech.” Both agencies regulate certain educational technology aimed at K-12 students. However, FTC rules implementing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) are not identical to ED regulations implementing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”). To better understand how both rules interact in practice, the agencies solicited public comment and convened panels of experts and stakeholders – including vendors, schools, parents, and regulators.

The workshop explored several key issues, including when a school may provide consent on behalf of participating students; how record retention (and deletion) should be noticed and executed; and what limits to impose on vendors collecting personal student information. In closing, both agencies expressed a desire to provide clear, workable regulatory oversight while meaningfully protecting student privacy.

We expect that FTC and ED will prepare a staff report, summarizing this workshop and potentially making policy recommendations in this area. To review the public comments made prior to the workshop, please visit the FTC public comments page. To see video of each panel, as well as opening and closing remarks, please visit the event page here. We will continue to monitor this issue and to inform you of related developments. 

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About this Author

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

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...

202-230-5674
Sarah Pheasant, Education and Compliance Lawyer, Drinker Biddle
Associate

Sarah L. Pheasant advises clients on various aspects of education law and regulatory compliance, including issues pertaining to the Higher Education Act, Title IV federal student aid programs, state educational licensing laws and the accreditation of postsecondary institutions. She has helped to advise non-profit and for-profit educational institutions and private investors on complex transactions, including changes of ownership involving institutions of higher education.

Before joining Drinker Biddle, Sarah handled a diverse range of litigation, from pharmaceutical product liability and white-collar criminal defense to legal malpractice and securities litigation. She has also advised on legislative and policy matters around elder care and non-profit administration.

(202) 230-5675