In many of your school communities, there may be some chatter about the use of cloud based services like Google Apps for Education in our schools. There may be some misconceptions that schools will no longer be able to use Google Apps for Education, or other such collaborative, cloud based services. The following information may help you clarify this law when concerns arise in your communities.
On January 1, 2016 a new law in New Hampshire (NH-HB520) will take affect concerning student online personal information. This is great news for all of us concerned about the distribution and sale of student information. Unfortunately, there may be some confusion among schools, parents, community members, or school administrators about this legislation with regard to using Google Apps for Education in our New Hampshire schools.
To be clear, HB 520 only “establishes guidelines for the protection of student online personal information”. It does not prohibit schools from using online or cloud based services, it merely protects those service providers from harvesting student data and using or selling it.
Chapter 128, HB 520 – Final Version http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2015/HB0520.html
Consider the following points:
- NH-HB520 does not directly reference Google Apps for Education, so the bill is not targeted at Google Apps for Ed in any way. Previous versions of this bill used Google Apps as an example of a service provider. But the language is gone in the final version, most likely to avoid confusion.
- NH-HB520 prohibits the ‘operator’ (aka provider of services) to use, sell, or disclose student information and generating targeted advertisements. Google Apps for Education is the poster child for privacy and security. Google Apps for Education has very strict policies governing the use of student information.
- Google has signed the Student Privacy Pledge which is endorsed by President Obama. The company understands the importance of data privacy and has always maintained that they do not own or want ownership of any information or content stored in any of the Google Applications. See http://studentprivacypledge.org/.
It is important to note that collaborative online tools, like Google Apps for Education and others, have a tremendous impact on how students learn, communicate, collaborate and engage in their learning journey. Districts who use these online tools understand the positive affect such collaborative tools have on student and teacher engagement, productivity, communication and information and communication technologies literacy. There are literally hundreds of thousands of teachers online every day sharing and helping each other be innovative in their approaches to teaching and learning through online professional learning communities of practice.