How principals can improve students’ safety online

How principals can improve students’ safety online

Data released during this year’s Privacy Awareness Week (12-18 May 2019) reveals that 60% of parents in Australia say their child is exposed to risks from being online.

This alarming statistic has prompted a leading image protection platform to call on schools and parents to protect each child’s right to digital privacy and online safety.

pixevety – an official supporter of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Privacy Awareness Week – has expressed concerned that schools are being tasked with managing thousands of images of the children in their care and have to comply with parental consents and laws – not an easy task.

Colin Anson, CEO and co-founder of pixevety, says schools must remember that using photos inappropriately or without consent can “cause a lifetime of pain”, especially in children susceptible to anxiety or depression.

“Negative outcomes don’t just put children in harm’s way, image mismanagement means the school is unable to comply with privacy law and practise duty of care,” Anson told The Educator.

“So, the main key is to obtain active, voluntary, and specific consent as part of implementing a privacy policy. For example, a parent should be able to state that their child’s photo can be used in this year’s school year book and newsletter, but not on social media or the website, if that is what they want.”

Anson said that if schools do use digital technologies or cloud services to deal with student images, they should check their privacy and data safety compliance and practices.

pixevety has just released a new round of additional features that intuitively tag photos, recognise the contents of photos, and then match this up with the permissions that parents have consented to for their individual children.

This allows parents/legal guardians to have more choice and control over how images taken of their child at school are used, and make adjustments in real-time, online.

“pixevety now enables schools to have all their content saved in one secure place with restrictions to ensure greater security, and there are filtering tools that allow school staff to sort images based on those restrictions and identify quickly which images can be used across various publishing channels,” Anson explained.

“We provide users with multiple privacy settings they can set for their photos and video permissions across access and publishing usage options.”

Anson points to an example: “A parent might be happy to have their child’s photos shared on the school’s website but not on its Facebook page,” he said.

He said the software makes it easy to automatically hide all past and present photos of that student for use in social media when the school’s Marketing Manager is looking at images to post on Facebook.

“On average, schools take more than 35,000 photos per year. Our platform has been built from scratch using privacy-by-design principles, supporting school efforts to preserve the privacy of children’s images and deliver parents’ choice,” he said.

Anson said pixevety’s highly secure facial recognition technology enables a school to instantly act on the consent settings [that parents have set] for each child by knowing which child each image relates to.

“Without it, managing consent across millions of digital images is simply impossible. There’s just no way they can manage student photos in this way and comply with privacy regulations without this tool – unless they make it a full-time job,” he said.

“So, school leaders have been relieved to have the work taken out of it, and also to have the peace of mind that they are supporting privacy compliance and acting with respect and integrity when it comes to student image privacy.”