GG4L Announces New Privacy and Cybersecurity Compliance Tools

GG4L Announces New Privacy and Cybersecurity Compliance Tools

School Passport’s Privacy Shield Protects Schools from the Risks of Data Sprawl

ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA, USA, April 15, 2024 / — Global Grid for Learning (GG4L), the leading privacy-centered data exchange for education, has announced a new suite of services within its School Passport® platform for schools and EdTech vendors to advance data privacy in the education ecosystem. GG4L’s School Passport has over 36,000 school clients, and is a primary data exchange in education for hundreds of SaaS vendors such as Blackboard, Canva, Coursera, D2L, Google and more. Over the past two years the company has begun the journey to transform the EdTech ecosystem by placing student data privacy at the core of the platform. School Passport is the only data exchange in Education that tackles the problem of data sprawl, or the copying of student data to hundreds of cloud-hosted SaaS vendors’ applications, including those applications that leverage Open AI or other Generative AI tools.

“School Passport’s Privacy Shield services allow more vendors to operate without accessing, using, or storing student personally identifiable information.”

— Robert Iskander, CEO, GG4L

Data sprawl is a major cybersecurity risk to schools, vendors and students. Cloud-based applications have led to the proliferation of remote applications within districts – estimated over 1000 applications per district. These remote applications copy school data to enable access for student users. This creates an additional risk, as highlighted by K12 Security Information eXchange (K12 SIX), who found that over half of student data breaches occurred in vendor systems, not district systems.

GG4L’s School Passport is the industry’s first platform to connect schools to their vendors without risking student data.

“GG4L continues to bring new innovations around the integration needs between schools and their EdTech vendors”, said Robert Iskander, Founder and CEO of GG4L. “School Passport’s Privacy Shield services allow more vendors to operate without accessing, using, or storing student personally identifiable information (PII).”

Today, GG4L is announcing a new suite of capabilities within its School Passport Member Edition, available at no cost to schools, to safeguard school data, while also facilitating easy adoption by SaaS vendors. The new Privacy Shield builds on the previous PII Shield by providing various levels of anonymization, as well as tokenized communications and other services to simplify the challenge for vendors to work with anonymized data. The concept of privacy levels aligns with 1EdTech’s OneRoster Privacy open standard working draft, to which GG4L has been a technical contributor.

School Passport offers three distinct levels of Privacy Shield, each tailored to accommodate vendors at different stages of readiness to embrace OneRoster Privacy:

Level-1 provides a straightforward entry point for vendors, although it offers the most basic protection for school data;

Level-2 serves as a crucial intermediary step, offering more protection compared to Level-1, while maintaining a manageable level of complexity for vendors; and

Level-3 affords the highest level of protection for school districts. This level significantly reduces the risk of sensitive data exposure in the event of a security breach, as potential malicious actors face formidable barriers to accessing sensitive data, thereby bolstering school districts’ security posture.

EdTech SaaS vendors are now being asked to make changes to their applications to support anonymized data from districts. Mike Voseipka, the CEO of Monarch Solutions, has embraced this Privacy Shield approach and reports, “Monarch has developed our personalized and secure K-12 content discovery search engine on top of the GG4L School Passport Privacy APIs for OneRoster and SSO. We believe this will make our new product future-proof as we launch it in the EdTech market.”

GG4L is announcing a portfolio of services within School Passport to enable vendors to maintain their full functionality with data anonymization.

The use cases supported in the initial suite of services include:

De-anonymized Reports
Allows for the de-anonymization of student information within third-party generated, anonymized, web-based reports for pre-approved school personnel. This service will allow vendors to utilize OneRoster Privacy, while still being able to offer standard reports for teachers and administrators with de-anonymized data.

Personalization Services
Offers personalized experiences for district users. For example, upon login, a student’s name appears in the top corner, reflecting a tailored approach that maintains privacy compliance, as vendors only access anonymized tokens.

Tokenized Email Services
Provides a relay email service that converts a vendor’s anonymized token to an email to be communicated with end users. Since many applications may need to communicate with users, this service allows vendors to work with anonymized data, but still communicate via email.

Tokenized SMS and Voice Call Services
Provides a relay communication service that allows vendors to send text messages and voice calls to users, such as parents, through School Passport. Similar to the email service, this provides SMS and Voice call capabilities, but mitigates the risks associated with sharing parent phone numbers by school districts.

School Passport, with Privacy Shield, is available now for all schools free of cost. By utilizing Privacy Shield, edtech vendors can operate in a PII-free environment, while retaining normal user functionality. Districts will be able to migrate more of their vendor partners into a PII-free model using these services and minimize the sprawl of students’ personally identifiable information to the thousands of EdTech vendors in their ecosystem.

About Global Grid for Learning (GG4L), a Public Benefit Corporation

Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) was founded in 2018 as a Public Benefit Corporation. GG4L’s data exchange platform, School Passport, serves over 3,000+ school districts and higher education systems, and hundreds of edtech vendors. GG4L advocates for open standards-based data integrations, governed PII-free data exchange, and strict data privacy compliance.

Robert B Iskander
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