An exchange student uses your school's website to apply for admission. An alumnus who lives in France responds to a reunion. A faculty member spends a sabbatical in Germany and communicates with colleagues back home. These routine digital interactions subject schools in the U.S. to the European Union's comprehensive privacy rules, which went into effect May 25. Many experts believe American schools are not prepared -- and could face steep fines as a result.

The E.U.’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) will impact any organization worldwide, including U.S. schools, that process data relating to people in Europe. Historically human rights have a strong place within Europe, part of this includes the fundamental right to privacy. Over the years, individual privacy has strengthened through various European directives. Now, with the evolution of privacy continuing in Europe through the release of the GDPR.

You've probably seen it in action, the annoying prompt when visiting a site for the first time, asking if it's OK to use cookies to track you. Its a privacy law that is creeping into U.S. businesses simply by proxy. The expectation is that as soon as later this year, the U.S. will be reciprocating a law of its own.

This is important, because just as large browsers such as Google's Chrome begin to remove the ability to install ad-blockers, there needs to be a way of combating the collection of private data (including underage students).

Here is the Senate Judiciary Committee discussing the GDRP and what kind of data companies collect about you:

The GDRP will create a student privacy Trifecta: COPPA, FERPA, and the GDRP working together to create a safer environment for students and educators.

The past few years have been marred by major data and privacy scandals that show just how reckless some of the biggest tech companies on the planet have been with your data. These massive violations of user trust and their data do have had an upside: More people than ever are aware of a need for increased online privacy. Even the CEOs of the giant tech companies are publicly speaking out about the need for tech companies to be regulated to improve the privacy and security of user data.

As Chief Technology Officer for BehaviorFlip, I am intensely aware of the importance of these laws. BehaviorFlip's products are used by schools, which are in turn used by their staff, students and their parents. In many ways, our product is data. We provide data to educators and parents about their students, data to the students themselves, and data to the district level about their schools as a whole. Yeah, a lot of data. Besides safeguarding that data from potential intruders, the other side of the coin is more sinister, safeguarding that data from ourselves, or rather, a company from selling personally identifiable student information to another company.

It cannot be understated how important that this is to us. To be clear, we at BehaviorFlip, will never release or sell personally identifiable information of the  students, educators, parents, or any other person that BehaviorFlip has access to. The question is can you expect that same stance from other companies that have access to student information?

But let's take one step further and not take my word for it. An alternate web browser, Brave is exploding onto the scene with its privacy-orientated mission (blocks ads and tracking automatically). The great thing is that it's built off Chromium (what Google's Chrome uses), so the switch is easy and comfortable. Also, since all tracking and ads are blocked by default, it's super fast.

Download Brave here

Taking all of this into account, it's possible to safeguard your own as well as your student's privacy by preventing the ability for some data leaks in the first place.

For more strategies and resources on how to create lasting change in your school and/or classroom, please check out our international bestseller, HACKING SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy & Responsibility Using Restorative Justice. Also, be sure to check out our revolutionary behavior management system, BehaviorFlip, that combines the best of restorative practices, PBIS, & MTSS to help build a culture of empathy, responsibility, & growth mindset!

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