Privacy Laws Every Teacher Should Know

Often our main question when using technology in the classroom is simply: does this benefit student learning and engagement? Unfortunately, there is more to it than that. BC has some very strict privacy laws that prohibit schools from placing student data on a server outside Canada. Think hotmail, facebook, and so on. To protect yourselves, please check out the following.

The organization in charge of BC's privacy laws is the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner (OIPC). They have published guidelines for public bodies (i.e. schools).

Post-secondary schools in BC are running into the same issues as public schools. They do a great job of outlining the issues in a BCCampuses paper (short, easy read). BCcampus is also doing a great job of posting updates on this issue.

A Quick Outline of the Problem (read this!)

"Social media services are commercial ventures. They earn revenue from advertisers or
partners who use the data voluntarily submitted by users to target their marketing efforts. In other words: the commercial product bought and sold isn’t the social media application itself, rather it is the users themselves and the rich, detailed information they willingly provide online about their consumer habits.

Social media companies are almost exclusively based in the United States, where the
provisions of the Patriot Act apply no matter where the information originates. The Patriot Act allows the U.S. government to access the social media content and the personally identifying information without the end users’ knowledge or consent.

The government of British Columbia, concerned with both the privacy and security of personal information, enacted a stringent piece of legislation to protect the personal information of British Columbians. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) mandates that no personally identifying information of British Columbians can be collected without their knowledge and consent, and that such information not be used for anything other than the purpose for which it was originally collected." (Klassen 3-4)

Klassen, V. (2010). Privacy and Cloud Based Educational Technology in British Columbia. A Background Paper. BCcampus.


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