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Initial Launch of the Privacy Evaluation Initiative

Topics:   Privacy Program

Evaluating the privacy policies and terms of service just got a lot easier.

Bill Fitzgerald | June 27, 2016

We often think of public launches as an end point. Realistically, a good launch is better thought of as a point a little past halfway. A good product launch is like hitting the 16 mile mark in a marathon. You've already done a lot of work, and there's still more to come.

It's in that spirit that I am incredibly proud to announce the public unveiling of work that has been years in the making. Several years ago, a group of school districts approached Common Sense to help address a common pain point: evaluating educational technology is labor intensive and time consuming, and districts across the country were duplicating labor. The entire purpose of the district-led Privacy Evaluation Initiative has been focused on addressing that need.

Along the way, Common Sense and a consortium of school districts - currently just under 100 - worked together to create a body of freely available resources, including an information security primer and the full set of questions we use to run the evaluations. We ground our work in transparency - ensuring access has been a central requirement of this effort. The foundations we use are freely available, under an open license. In addition to working to reduce the effort required to evaluate software, we want the tools we use to be available so more people can do the work.

The screencast below highlights our process. In the screencast, you can see how the various components we have released work together.



To see the list of applications that have currently been evaluated, please head over to Over the summer, Common Sense and District staff will be evaluating more applications. By the beginning of September, we aim to have 150 apps with full privacy evaluations. As we evaluate, we are prioritizing apps based on feedback from our partner districts.

As we publicly release this work, and prepare for the next phase of this project, I want to thank the districts who have made this work possible. Without their involvement, time, and expertise, this project would not exist.