Vibal leads forum to rally against use of students’ data for non-educational purposes

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The “Are Your Kids Tech-Safe?” forum hosted by Vibal Foundation, Inc. took place earlier today at the Makati Shangri-la, where parents, educators and government representatives gathered to discuss issues surrounding data privacy in education in order to raise awareness and encourage concerned individuals to take action in ensuring that information provided by children in schools will not be used for non-educational purposes.

Vibal Group of Companies chair Esther Vibal claims that with the expansion of tech-aided teaching and learning, certain “safety nets” must be developed in educational institutions to protect the data privacy of Filipino students.

The keynote speaker at the forum was Jeff Gould of SafeGov.org, a worldwide organization striving to help the public sector make the right choices in selecting the most transparent or ethical technology providers. Gould discussed the concept of data mining, where certain businesses acquire one’s personal information through various technology sources, such as social media and one’s network provider, without one’s consent.

Vibal-3Jeff Gould delivers his keynote presentation

“You can always be identified once they get data from you. If you want people to know who you are, and if they tell you what they’re doing—if they ask your permission and you give it to them—you can control and stop everything they’re doing whenever you want. That’s good, but the children at schools don’t have that ability,” said Gould. “Even if they knew what was happening, you wouldn’t necessarily trust your children to make the right decisions. We know that they give away their email and they click on links on the web that they shouldn’t click on. We’re not saying it’s a bad thing. We’re saying that in schools, it needs to be carefully regulated.”

In his keynote, Gould emphasized that companies should stop using “personal identifiable information” of children and tracking their online activities as their data may end up in the hands of hackers, human traffickers, and identity thieves, among others.

Gould remarked, “A lot of companies are offering free cloud services to schools, and that’s a good thing. We want companies to continue to offer free cloud services such as email to schools all over the world. But there’s no reason why the schools should pay for those good services with basically giving up children’s privacy. You can get both. You can get the free services from the web companies and you can protect children’s privacy. You don’t have to give up one to get the other.”

Vibal-2(L-R) Gould, Cipriano, Empleyo, Villanueva, Ferrer, Diloy, and Del Prado

A mix of educators and advocates were invited to join Gould in a panel discussion regarding data privacy in education: Jovel Cipriano, founder of interactive educational program Websafekids.org; Janice Villanueva, founder of Mommy Mundo; Rhodora Ferrer, executive director of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines; Ysrael Diloy, one of the core trainers for the advocacy team of Stairway Foundation; Ka Arnulfo Empleyo, president of the National Association of Public Secondary School Heads; Atty. Noel Del Prado, Legal Consultant at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs in the Department of Education.

Empleyo argued, “Prevention is better than cure. Kung sisimulan natin ang pag-iingat mula sa sambahayan o sa bawat pamilya hanggang sa paaralan at sa lipunan, mapipigilan po natin ang panghihimasok ng mga negosyante sa pansariling buhay. Ang higit na maaapektuhan dito ay ang mga kabataan na walang muwang.”

Ang mga bata madaling papaniwalain. ‘E sino ngayon ang magbibigay ng proteksyon? Tayong mga matatanda! Tayong mga nasa paaralan, nasa sa atin ang kung papaano na ang adbokasiya na isinusulong natin ngayon ay maisasakatuparan,” he added.

“In the home, we can easily fix the privacy settings on the computer and the routers can be configured, said Mommy Mundo founder Villanueva. “But now we realize that we also have to do things to make sure that the protection goes beyond our home—to the second home, which is the school.”

To learn more about student data privacy, visit www.safegov.org.