NPC issues ‘Do's, Don’ts’ for online classes

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Friday released a list of "do's and don'ts" for K-12 online classes  ahead of the opening of the school year 2020-2021 through blended learning in public schools next week.

The guidelines, published in NPC Bulletin No. 16, aims to help students, parents, teachers, and schools at safeguarding sensitive personal information.

Issued by the NPC based on inputs from the Data Privacy Council for the education sector, the guidelines cover the following areas : “online decorum, learning management systems, online productivity platforms" and the proper use of social media and storage and protection of personal information.

It advised students to create strong passwords, be wary of sharing videos, photos, and other files, use customized backgrounds to avoid accidental disclosure of personal information, install an anti-virus program, mute microphones, and turn off webcams by default and when not in use.

Students are also discouraged to connect their devices in public Wi-Fi networks especially those without passwords, to share files without a time limit, send assignments and other requirements via social media, taking screenshots of online classes on video, spamming chats, and giving videoconference links and passwords to people outside their class.

Parents, meanwhile, are advised to help their children customize their privacy settings, teach basic online security such as enabling two-factor authentication and avoid sharing of passwords, reading the school’s privacy policy, and ensuring that their consent is obtained for the recording of classes.

“Consider being present during these sessions, especially if the student is a minor,” the guidelines read.

For teachers, it said the “privacy, equity, and peculiarity” of students must be considered when conducting online classes.

It noted that teachers must respect students who are uncomfortable displaying their living spaces or family members, consider that not all have reliable internet access and that some might feel shy or anxious on camera, affecting their performance in class.

It recommended that teachers should make webcams optional for online classes, record classes only for legitimate purposes, obtain consent from the student or guardian before online proctoring, let students decide the use of their webcams and backgrounds, and allow students to respond to questions in different ways—through chat, video, polls, and others.

Teachers were also discouraged to post announcements with personal data such as grades, use social media for receiving assignments or projects, store sensitive student data in a personal account or device, give plus points when students use their cameras, and remove students from their class for not using a camera.