e-Learning: CCFC calls for greater protection for children

April 21, 2020

An open letter to policymakers and industry leaders calling for greater moderation of e-Learning platforms has been published by the CCFC and Defend Digital  

e-Learning: CCFC calls for greater protection for children

Over thirty human rights organisations, as well as advocacy groups have signed a letter calling for protection of children’s rights when using e-Learning platforms.  The letter explains how the Covid-19 pandemic and school closures worldwide have created a situation which risks undermining children’s human rights. 

The letter was jointly published by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFA) based in Boston and Defend Digital based in the UK.  It references various policies and documents from the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) to strengthen the argument that the current surge in EdTech use and the mass adoption of e-Learning platforms risks violating the rights of children.

Data protection authorities have been asked to publish guidelines and moderate e-Learning platforms to ensure that children’s data is not being misused.  Policymakers have been urged to publish impact assessments.  Providers are urged to not exploit children’s data for commercial gain and finally educators are asked to perform greater due diligence when procuring EdTech and signing up to e-learning platforms.

The paper cites high profile articles from the media including a story about how data privacy and security issues were exposed on the video conferencing platform Zoom.  Another example is provided involving the use of facial recognition in a Swedish school which resulted in a municipality receiving a GDPR fine.

Groups that have signed the letter...

Defend digital me
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
5Rights Foundation
Access Now
Aspiration
Badass Teachers Association
Berkeley Media Studies Group
Biometrics-in-Schools
Bolo Bhi
CRIN (Child Rights International Network)
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of America
Corporate Accountability
Digital Rights Foundation
EDRi (European Digital Rights)
Educadigital Institute – Open Education Initiative
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) Inc.
EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center)
Instituto Alana
IPANDETEC (El Instituto Panameño de Derecho y Nuevas Tecnologías)
New Dream
Obligation, Inc.
Open Rights Group
Parent Coalition for Student Privacy
Parents Across America
Parents Together
P.E.A.C.E. (Peace Educators Allied For Children Everywhere)
Privacy International
Privacy Salon
Public Citizen
Public Knowledge
TEDIC (The Association of Technology, Education, Development, Research, Communication)
TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Childhood Entertainment)
Women Leading in AI Network

“ It’s inspiring how families and educators have stepped up to keep kids learning in this most difficult time. But we cannot trample children’s other critical rights in the rush to provide remote learning. Tech companies should not be allowed to use this crisis to mine even more of children’s sensitive data or to expose students to marketing messages masquerading as lessons… ” Josh Golin, Executive Director, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Arguably, the best example in the letter involves a decision taken by the Welsh Government to no longer require any form of consent from parents for the use of its HWB platform.  This announcement was made to speed up the adoption of the platform when schools starting closing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Parents are instead asked to contact their school if they have serious concerns.

Follow these links to find out more about the work being carried out by the CCFC and Defend Digital:

https://commercialfreechildhood.org/

https://defenddigitalme.com/