SafeGovEU

Survey Supports Stronger Privacy Protection for European School Children

Today, after months of interviews with Data Protection Authorities and policymakers across Europe, SafeGov.org published the key findings that surfaced in these interviews related to protecting children’s privacy. The report was announced in a press release that also called for “online service providers, regulators, policymakers, schools and parents to formally ban targeted advertising to students.” The findings and recommendations in the report are based on extensive interviews conducted by SafeGov.org with European data protection officials.

The interviews show broad support for safeguarding especially vulnerable cloud user populations in public organisations, such as school children, civil servants, and healthcare professionals and their
patients, who are at risk of being tracked and profiled for online advertising purposes. The majority of respondents endorsed the use of Codes of Conduct establishing rules that schools and cloud providers could voluntarily sign up for, which SafeGov.org recommends include a binding pledge to ban the processing or secondary use of data for advertising purposes in schools.

Jeff Gould, president of SafeGov.org, commented: “The use of commercial cloud services by schools in Europe is growing, and while the benefits of such adoption are indisputable – ease of use, cost and simplicity – the education sector contains particularly vulnerable users who require special privacy protection. We’re comforted by the support voiced for safeguarding school children, and today we’re asking for a clear, principled commitment from cloud, policy and education actors banning targeted advertising in schools.”

SafeGov.org undertook the research given its concern that the implementation of cloud services based on consumer technologies designed to track and profile users and their behaviour for ad-targeting purposes, may allow cloud providers to gather information about school children and members of other public organisations that they should not have – in clear violation of EU data protection laws.

In light of its findings, SafeGov.org also called on European DPAs to extend the current focus of their investigations of the consumer privacy policies of large Internet firms to address the specific scenario of data subjects who use cloud services in public sector organisations like schools, but also national and local government and hospitals.

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