Across the past few months, Microsoft has been making a real push to change perceptions regarding its stance over the issue of privacy, at least with regards to the common consumer. From becoming the first private company to challenge the US government on the topic, to improving privacy options across the board, Redmond is keen to become known as a champion on the issue, as it has very real implications to both its future and current business models.
In October 2014, Microsoft became one of the first companies to sign the ‘K-12 School Service Provider Pledge to Safeguard Student Privacy’, a framework created by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), intended to establish minimum standards for the collection and usage of student data across the USA. This pledge was recently endorsed by the White House, in a recent speech by President Obama, as part of a wider call for comprehensive privacy reform.
The pledge is of particular importance as the school environment becomes ever more inundated with technology. As children, teenagers and young adults are encouraged to make use of new systems and means of interaction in the classroom, it is crucial that their environment remains as safe and secure as it had previously been. As such, although these moves are small, they are in the right direction.
As Fred Humphries, Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs for Microsoft states,
“We hope the president’s remarks today will help build further momentum in providing robust privacy protections for student data. We look forward to working with the White House, Representatives Polis and Messer, as well as FPF, SIIA and other signatory companies to persuade all major education technology providers to take the pledge. Participants in the educational technology industry have a responsibility to students, parents, and educators to publicly commit to protect and safeguard student data”
As technology offers more personalized solutions for individuals, how their data is collected and handled is of paramount ethical importance, as such it can only be hoped that other companies will choose to sign this pledge and back the White House in their drive to protect the interests of those most in need.
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