CEDO, a newly established Coalition for Fair Digital Education in the Netherlands, has recently launched a manifesto and a petition for privacy-friendly education. The coalition consists of parents, teachers, IT professionals and privacy advocates. Privacy First has for years been concerned about the increasing lack of privacy of children and school pupils. We therefore strongly support this initiative.
CEDO notes that public education – i.e. today’s digital learning systems – are dominated by a handful of tech giants and is deeply worried that fundamental rights, such as the privacy of children, parents and teachers, cannot be adequately safeguarded.
Whether it concerns the processing and storage of digital educational projects or the use of email services, online notepads and video tools, the digital infrastructure of Dutch education is almost entirely in the hands of foreign companies such as Google and Microsoft. This can be convenient – it allowed for homeschooling to come off the ground quickly during the first Covid lockdowns for example – but these companies restrict the right to privacy and are not transparent about what happens with the data they collect.
The presence of Big Tech in education means that digital security of pupils cannot be guaranteed by schools. In fact, children lose control over their data as early as kindergarten. They are offered only limited and one-sided knowledge of the products they use, instead of the (digital) skills to learn critical thinking.
The coalition therefore advocates an alternative way of designing digital learning environments, one that does indeed safeguard public values and autonomy in education.
Digital education must and can be organized differently!