Working to develop privacy protections, and understanding how the lack of regulatory oversight impacts students, is central to the Center for Democracy and Technology’s (CDT) work. As Next Century Cities works to expand broadband access, partnering with allies like CDT has helped NCC to expand its footprint on an emerging issue that is inextricably linked to broadband adoption.

For example, research shows that 81% of teachers reported that their school uses some form of student activity monitoring software. Although NCC is squarely focused on connecting the millions of students who do not have the broadband service or computing devices needed to complete assignments at home, we are increasingly concerned about their ability to get online without unnecessary surveillance. 

Next Century Cities Executive Director, Francella Ochillo, joined the CDT Tech Talk podcast to discuss privacy challenges for local officials and school administrators. She emphasized concerns related to keeping students safe in digital spaces while also preserving their privacy. Francella cited particular unease with monitoring students using school-issued devices and services used off-campus, particularly in their homes. Even if done with good intentions, possibly to collect attendance for online learning or engagement statistics, it can compromise privacy rights for the most disadvantaged students. 

Listen to the twelve-minute podcast here.