Access to Photos on School iPads?
3 considerations for user and content access in school-issued devices.
By Bill Miles | April 16, 2019
Earlier this week, the New Haven Register (CT) reported that a parent from one of the Hamden Public Schools raised privacy concerns when she learned that her child had access to hundreds of shared photos of students across the district within a school-issued iPad. Read the full story.
According to the article, some of the school-issued iPads had photo sharing enabled for certain folders, with access to photos taken by the school of various students and school activities from different campuses in the district.
School officials were quick to note that while the revelation was concerning, it was not considered a FERPA violation because the “educational records [photos] were not shared [outside the school] and none of the parents of the students captured on the device had opted out their children from being photographed in the schools.”
This situation raises a few points that all schools should consider:
1 – Minimizing concern among families.
First of all, even a relatively “minor” breach in privacy, such as the one described above, can cause significant concern for parents. It can then lead to a challenging public relations dynamic with the potential of influencing a school’s reputation in the long run. In the Hamden Public School’s case described in the article, the school officials did a nice job balancing the privacy concerns with the school’s desire to use technology, while also admitting that they could have done better. Schools must be transparent when communicating their media sharing policies with parents early on and repeatedly, in order to establish clear expectations.
2 – Content management across devices.
Managing access to the content on school-issued devices can be a very time-consuming and complicated endeavour. Schools must spend time developing and executing processes in this area to minimize mishaps. Photos taken at school are considered educational records, and should be handled with extreme care. It is one thing to make photos publicly viewable on an internal shared folder, but what if they were posted publicly on Facebook or Flickr instead? One recommendation is to identify an individual at the school who is clearly responsible for auditing, moderating, managing access and permissions, and developing procedures based on the school’s established policies. This follows some of the best practices designed into GDPR and the more recent California Consumer Privacy Act.
3 – One Place to Centralize Media. Privately and Securely.
On the whole, this incident reinforces that identifying one secure, private location for school media can save you not only hours of your time on a day-to-day, but also bring you peace of mind. Offering one and only one place to store school-related media will mean that teachers, staff and students can now remove information from personal and school devices, where content is often silo-ed. This puts the community in a much more controlled and secure position in terms of managing and sharing photos.
About Bill Miles:
Bill began his career as an attorney-at-law. Driven by technology and innovation, he has worked with several start-ups to lead innovation. Now, as CEO of Vidigami, Bill is leading the Vidigami Private Social Platform and Picaboo Yearbooks Editor to provide schools with a one-stop-shop solution that enables them to securely centralize, intelligently organize, privately share, and utilize media in a way that is responsible and rewarding.