White House Group Urges Caution on Big Data
May 2, 2014

The abundance of big data in education "raises serious questions about how best to protect student privacy," a White House working group warns in a report released Wednesday. 

The working group, led by the White House counselor John Podesta, has examined the impact of big data on education, government efficiency and health care, among other sectors. In the section on education, the report notes that much of the data is owned by for-profit companies, which "raises complicated questions" about ownership and usage. The workgroup also urges the federal government to maintain an "ongoing conversation" about protecting student privacy.

"Big data and other technological innovations, including new online course platforms that provide students real time feedback, promise to transform education by personalizing learning," Podesta wrote. "At the same time, the federal government must ensure educational data linked to individual students gathered in school is used for educational purposes, and protect students against their data being shared or used inappropriately."

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