Consumer and human rights groups from around the world are calling on governments and educators to protect children from commercial exploitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Distance learning could become the new normal. For example, the White House is proposing that all school-age children get high-speed broadband access and teachers get training in online curricula as part of his plan to reopen the economy.
Given that new reality, the groups want to make sure that in the rush to deliver online instruction, children's rights, to privacy and others, are not undermined with effects lasting beyond the crisis.
In an "open letter," the groups ask data protection authorities to get together to publish guidelines, monitor companies and enforce compliance for e-learning platforms and edtech.
And with government putting millions into edtech and connectivity, the groups want governments to take responsibility for the products they subsidize or recommend, and to make upholding children's rights--as recognized by the UN--the quid pro quo.
They said kids deserve a "secure space" to learn "without commercial interference," the point being that children's mandatory online participation not be "exploited."
Singing on to the letter were Defend Digital Me; Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood; Access Now; Aspiration; Badass Teachers Association; Berkeley Media Studies Group; Biometrics-in-Schools; Bolo Bhi; Child Rights International Network (CRIN); Consumer Action; Consumer Federation of America; Corporate Accountability; Digital Rights Foundation; EDRi (European Digital Rights); Educadigital Institute - Open Education Initiative; Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) Inc.; Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC); El Instituto Panameño de Derecho y Nuevas Tecnologías (IPANDETEC); Instituto Alana; New Dream; Obligation, Inc.; Open Rights Group; Parent Coalition for Student Privacy; Parents Across America; Parents Together; P.E.A.C.E. (Peace Educators Allied For Children Everywhere); Privacy International; Privacy Salon; Public Citizen; Public Knowledge; TEDIC (The Association of Technology, Education, Development, Research, Communication); TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Childhood Entertainment); and Women Leading in AI Network.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.