"I'm going to trust this until it burns me" Parents' Privacy Concerns and Delegation of Trust in K-8 Educational Technology


Victoria Zhong, New York University; Susan McGregor, Columbia University; Rachel Greenstadt, New York University


After COVID-19 restrictions forced an almost overnight transition to distance learning for students of all ages, education software became a target for data breaches, with incidents like the Illuminate data breach affecting millions of students nationwide and over 820,000 current and former students in New York City (NYC) alone. Despite a general return to in-person schooling, some schools continue to rely on remote-learning technologies, with NYC even using remote learning during weather-related closures or "snow days." Given the ongoing use of these classroom technologies, we sought to understand parents' awareness of their security and privacy risks. We also wanted to know what concerns parents had around their childrens' use of these tools, and what informed these concerns. To answer these questions, we interviewed 18 NYC parents with children in grades K-8. We found that though the COVID-19 pandemic was the first exposure to remote learning technologies for many children and some parents, there was insufficient guidance and training around them provided for children, parents, and educators. We also found that participating parents implicitly trusted schools and the Department of Education (DOE) to keep their children - and their children's data - safe, and therefore rarely reported privacy and security concerns about classroom technologies. At the same time, however, they described many situations that indicated privacy and security risks with respect to classroom technologies.

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@inproceedings {291148,
author = {Victoria Zhong and Susan McGregor and Rachel Greenstadt},
title = {"I{\textquoteright}m going to trust this until it burns me" Parents{\textquoteright} Privacy Concerns and Delegation of Trust in K-8 Educational Technology},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {5073--5090},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity23/presentation/zhong},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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