The year of privacy - helping keep your children’s identity safe online - Education Matters Magazine
  •      

The year of privacy – helping keep your children’s identity safe online

Pixevety Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Colin Anson first started the photo consent management software 10 years ago when he encountered the pain of trying to get back control of his daughter’s photos at school.

Pixevety was born to help schools and parents have greater control over who takes, sees and distributes a child’s photo online.

“Schools capture tens of thousands of photos and videos of children each year with a rough estimate of 10 per cent being shared online via their website, e-newsletter, Youtube and social media pages. When I share these statistics with schools, they are understandably shocked and concerned,” says Anson.

“Schools must take steps to ensure that they take into account the imbalance of power when using a child’s personal information (including photos), a vulnerable group in society, and to be open and upfront about what the school intends to do with these photos and the possible consequences.”

According to statistics by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), online child abuse activities are on the rise with a 150 per cent increase in child abuse reporting during the pandemic and most abuse facilitated through the sharing of online images, with up to 60 per cent of content sourced via Facebook.

Anson says 2021 has been labelled the year of privacy, with many schools in the past year gearing up to meet new privacy regulations and the possibility of continued remote learning.

However, he urges that schools now have a duty of care to student privacy, with them to stop inadvertently disclosing images of students publicly without parent consent.

“Following best practice privacy compliance practices is critical when capturing, storing, sharing and/or publishing images of children at school to avoid creating opportunities for student online harm, such as cyberbullying, stalking, grooming and identity theft,” he says.

“Our real goal has always been to protect children online. Through my work experience in the digital space, I know how much data social media platforms collect, and I was never really comfortable with it.

“Our system identifies children and applies parent consent on the side so a school can use the product to know if they can use images for social media and different platforms, meaning the school won’t get in trouble because parents are able to give live consent.”

Anson explains that through using ethically designed facial recognition technology, Pixevety can identify a specific student or person and use it only with the school’s gallery or the users’ private gallery.

The Pixevety platform improves the efficiency and effectiveness of a school’s media management practices whilst respecting the consent wishes of parents and guardians (with an average 80 per cent parent response rate using a Pixevety online consent form as recommended versus traditional paper-based formats).

Not only does the tool create a more efficient consent management system, but it also saves time, and gives staff resources and confidence needed to safely engage, share and publish those special school memories across different channels (i.e. encrypted email, school website, newsletters, social media channels).

With schools spending hours manually trying to administer photos and videos, and days trying to identify students, searching for that “one special moment”, manage consents or handling special cases (i.e. children in foster care), using Pixevety’s unique locked-down single gallery AI technology helps to safely and intelligently recognise faces in photos that only select school staff can access, manage and control.

Following the maximum penalty for entities who mishandle consumer data under Australian Consumer Law increasing by almost 500 per cent to $10 million, Anson says he was always confident that this day would come.

In 2016 Pixevety took a huge leap of faith by pivoting its service using privacy-by-design methodology, which builds privacy into the design and architecture of the platform.

“We invested heavily in a tech privacy business as we wholeheartedly believed families wanted to protect their children online as much as they do offline. For us it was to create a safer alternative to social media channels,” Anson says.

The software also offers a VIP Area which allows parents to have their children’s photos hand-delivered to them in one simple spot.

“When working with a school the first thing we do is centralise all of the school’s content. Instead of it being on everyone’s phones and laptops, we are reducing risk by putting it in one place. The second thing we do is save time because schools don’t have to go and find specific photos in hundreds and we can then see if those people in the that photo have consent or not. It is de-risking it all for schools,” Anson says.

The platform has already been successfully implemented in over a hundred schools throughout Australia, NZ and parts of Asia. As part of its privacy and security partnership promise, Pixevety has chosen not to promote its school client base publicly, however, two prominent Australian schools were proud to share their Pixevety experience in this article: St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, and St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School.

“Pixevety has provided an outstanding service to our school” says Bianca Wagner, Archives Manager at St Joseph’s.

“Our content (both historical and current) was quickly uploaded into one online space and is now readily available for anyone in our school to easily access based on permissions and roles. The new app has also provided a quick and easy way for teachers to upload images to our school’s gallery without having to store images on their personal device Wendy Johnston, Director of Marketing and Communications at St Margaret’s said the main reason her school elected to go with Pixevety was because the company “lived and breathed their dedication to protecting people’s privacy. Implementing new systems can be challenging but Pixevety was with us every step of the way”.

The benefits of Pixevety doesn’t stop with the school, it also allows parents a greater choice and control over its child’s images taken at school. The platform enables parents and legal guardians help clearly communicate their consent wishes when it comes to how a school uses and shares those images and allows them to flag images for instant removal in real-time.

Pixevety takes pride in not being just a software company, but a full service platform.

“We are ahead of the curve and with everyone talking about privacy this year, this is a time to emphasise how we can help,” says Anson.