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Code.org Deletes Student Email Addresses, Makes Important Changes to Policy to Ensure Data Security

Code.org Deletes Student E-mail Addresses, Makes Important Changes to Policy to Ensure Data Security

Code.org has made a series of changes designed to ensure the security of student data ahead of the new school year.

The changes are reflected in its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and the non-profit is asking for public review and comment until hopeful implementation by August 22.

One of the biggest changes Code.org is making is reversing its practice of sending student e-mail addresses to its servers.

”This is the approach we previously took for students under 13 years of age, and we’re expanding this approach to all our students, even if they’re adults. We have over 10 million student accounts on our system, and we have deleted any email addresses associated with these accounts,” said Code.org on its blog.

"We did this because the privacy and safety of student data is more important to us than the ability to contact our users. We hope other education web sites consider the same approach.”

The philosophy Code.org is adopting going forward is that the data that it does not store cannot be stolen from it, guaranteeing absolute privacy for the students it works with.

To help readers understand exactly how it is able to have students use e-mail addresses for log-in without storing them, it says:

"We will still allow students to login using their email address and password. But as soon as a student enters this information, it’s scrambled using a 'one way hash function,' so what we save isn’t the original email address or password, but rather the scrambled version. This is the standard method for keeping passwords out of the hands of hackers. We’re now applying the same protection to student email addresses.”

In addition, it will only be allowing children under the age of 13 access to its new App Lab tool and upcoming Game Lab too if they are part of a classroom where the teacher reads and accepts the new terms and conditions for them.

It will still use student data for its own purposes to "build an aggregate picture to advance our goal of increasing diversity in computer science.”

This includes asking students over the age of 13 and teachers to take optional surveys providing information about their demographic information and collecting how students solve puzzles to better understand course effectiveness.

Read the full blog post here and review the new policy changes here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior World Contributor

7/26/2016

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