The structure of schooling and learning, including teaching and assessment methodologies, has drastically altered in the past few months. The Covid-19 pandemic and its preventive measures have not just affected all walks of life but heavily interrupted the education sector as well, giving rise to an unparalleled need for an online mode of education. Many commercial providers of digital learning platforms have rushed to offer their solutions for this crisis. As a result, data protection and privacy issues previously regarded as vague have become extremely important in the present scenario.
Need for Student Data Protection for Online Education
The collection of data and its proper interpretation is a critical aspect in the strategic planning efforts of every educational institution, offering both proofs of success and rationale for new initiatives to be undertaken. Nowadays, there is a reliance on technological innovations and remote connection methods for collecting several datasets. It causes an unavoidable and a potential threat for unethical or even unlawful use of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from the data being collected.
PII may include:
- The collection, usage, and management of students’ PII
- All information that could be used to identify, find or connect with a student, including name, address, student ID, demographics, birth date, and login credentials
- Information that could be merged to identify a specific student
- There are legal and ethical limitations on collecting, using, sharing, and handling the student PII. Sometimes third-party vendors engage in unlawful sourcing of such data for advertising purposes or identity theft if placed in the wrong hands.
Solution for Student Data Protection
Protecting the student data is imperative in creating a safe and secure space for the students without worrying about the unethical sourcing, use or storage of their personal information.
There are principal governing initiatives from the Government of India like the Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act) and the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules 2011 that ensure proper collection and processing of data privacy on a sector-neutral basis.
Another possible remedy is to employ powerful tools such as the Infosys Enterprise Data Privacy Suite (iEDPS), which is an easy-to-use, high-performance, scalable and cost-effective data privacy product that automates the data masking process of an enterprise in a centralized manner. It also helps protect confidential, sensitive, private, and personally identifiable information within enterprise repositories. iEDPS is highly customizable and configurable and can be deployed on any platform. It also supports all major databases as well as multiple operating systems. Proper usage of such tools can ensure that misuse of PII can be prevented in any manner without the consent of the parties involved, thus providing a viable solution for the ethical and moral dilemma.
Protection of data in the education sector should ensure that student data privacy remains a top priority throughout as well as after the current pandemic. The guidelines need to be effective and collaboratively established by a diverse and inclusive community of people with broad expertise in data privacy and security.
Author: Anjali R