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Privacy and consent: Getting it right

 

 

With issues surrounding privacy and consent in the spotlight like never before, Pixevety CEO Colin Anson talks to Education Matters about how schools can get the most out of their photos and videos, while still protecting the digital identities of their students.

The world is rapidly changing. We live in a time where technology is at our fingertips and constantly evolving. Thanks to smartphones, a camera is usually within arm’s reach, and photos and videos can be shared to social media in just a few clicks.

But what implications does this have for schools? And, how can a school be sure that they are complying with privacy laws when it comes to publishing photos of students?

As Mr Anson explains, a bundled approach to consent is not the right solution. “Consent is not just about a one-stop tick of a box. There is a big difference between gaining consent to publish a child’s photo in a yearbook and gaining consent to publish that photo on social media. I’ve seen examples of schools asking for permission to publish photos, administer paracetamol and allow students to go on excursions, all on the one form, which is ludicrous. For so long, it was either all in or all out, but there are shades of grey. Parents need to be able to decide if they want their child featured in the yearbook but not on social media,” he says.

“Then I’ve seen some schools use a coercive approach, where if parents don’t give consent for photos to be taken and shared, then the student can’t perform in school plays or sporting events, so their school life suffers, which is also unfair.”

Mr Anson created Pixevety in response to some of the issues surrounding privacy and consent. A smart and easy to use photo and video management solution, Pixevety offers a unique platform that supports schools in becoming privacy compliant, saving the school time and resources, and giving parents better access and control of how photos of their child are used or distributed.

Australian owned and operated, Pixevety stores data locally on a simple, safe and secure platform, allowing schools to make the most of the thousands of photos that are taken each year, and giving students and parents private access to a sea of memories.

The system is very sophisticated, and the backend quite complex, however this has enabled Pixevety to offer a solution that is very simple to use.

“On average, most schools take around 30,000 photos a year, but I’ve come across some schools taking up to 300,000. It needs to be consolidated and managed, in order to protect the students. Consent needs to be informed and current, and technology is necessary to deal with this at volume,” explains Mr Anson.

“Digital asset management is something we have been doing a long time. Generally, these types of systems have been used in large organisations, but it is becoming necessary in schools too. The concept is that you can store something once but have multiple people access it with different rights to the content. Schools have only recently begun looking into these sorts of systems because they are fundamentally expensive. At Pixevety, we’ve created a data management system for schools that is much more cost effective.”

When a photo is uploaded into the Pixevety system, it is first examined for anything unsavoury, with any photo deemed inappropriate automatically filtered out. It then uses facial recognition to determine who is in the photo, using a mathematical algorithm that’s encrypted. By knowing who is pictured in the photo, the system can determine if the child’s parents have given consent for that photo to be used, or alternatively, remove it.

“Schools need a digital asset management system that makes life as simple as possible, but also protects them, so it needs to be consent driven. Pixevety is an approach that is very much about protection. If a parent changes their circumstances, they can easily go in and change the privacy settings for their child, and the school can see if consent was provided at the time a photo was published, which offers the school greater protection,” says Mr Anson.

He adds that privacy is a moral issue as much as it is a legal issue. “We now have everything to protect and not so much to hide. When it comes to consent, a little bit of thinking goes a long way. Technology has created many privacy issues that only technology can fix. Social media has its place, we just need to be clear on how we are going to use it and if we have consent. While children are young, it’s up to us to protect them in the best way we can. Everything comes second to privacy. It is all about a single, simple and safe solution, where without doubt, consent is king.”