Privacy-Enhancing Technologies Support Governance Plans
Privacy-enhancing technologies — or PETs — are helping a growing number of universities and colleges meet a higher bar for privacy. PETs are software and hardware solutions designed to maximize data usage without posing privacy and security risks.
The University of Michigan is one example of an institution that has made good use of PETs.
The university used PETs to launch an online portal called ViziBLUE, which shows students how their data is being used. The portal also provides guidance on privacy considerations. “We are using homegrown tools to provide access to this information by building integrations with other tools,” says Ravi Pendse, the university’s vice president for IT and CIO.
“For example, we have networking tools that collect Wi-Fi data. Those, in turn, interface with this portal to show when you connect to various campus buildings,” he says. “Similarly, ViziBLUE provides information about your interactions with the admissions system, with financial aid data and learning analytics data.”
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PETs also offer data encryption, digital rights management and other features that support privacy governance. These tools are in compliance with student privacy laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
“PETs are not a single solution,” Kelly says. “They are one part of a solution you’re setting forth in your policy and your governance, and those privacy enhancing technologies are supporting that.”
Proactively Address Student Concerns About Data Privacy
What concerns do students have about privacy? How has the pandemic affected student data privacy expectations? Universities and colleges need to be aware.
When higher education transitioned to online classes, students formed new expectations for data privacy in schools. To build trust with current and prospective students, institutions must be proactive about communicating privacy rights and protections — and information on how their data will be used.
“When we shifted to online learning we had to engage with students and faculty to provide additional guidance,” Pendse says.