Tracking of student information by security software

Published Date: 24 February 2021 09:50 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan, West Coast GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) what are the different kinds of student information that are being tracked by the security software that is built into students' learning devices made available to secondary school, junior college and other students; and (b) what is the rationale for this.

Response

1. The security software on students' Personal Learning Devices (PLDs) only collects information required to facilitate a conducive environment for teaching and learning, and to encourage good online practices.

2. First, the software enables MOE and schools to centrally update the devices, such as to install new learning applications or security patches. To do so, the software collects basic student information such as his or her name, school and email address. The software does not collect or track information such as identification numbers, passwords, and the location of the device.

3. Second, the software supports teachers in effective classroom management. For example, through the software, teachers will be able to see and support the work that the students are engaging in on their devices during lessons.

4. Third, the software helps to filter out harmful internet content. When students surf the Internet on their PLDs, the security software checks the website URL against a regularly-updated blacklist in order to block access to harmful content including pornographic and gambling-related websites or those with extremist content. In our engagements with parents, this feature of the software was something they strongly welcomed, as they were very concerned about excessive screen time, and their children's access to inappropriate content online.

5. Any student information collected by the software is stored in secure servers managed by appointed vendors with stringent access controls. This is in line with the Government's personal data laws and policies to safeguard sensitive data collected by public agencies.

6. Notwithstanding the benefits of the security software, there are some parents who have asked for some flexibilities in the implementation, including to disable the software after school hours. MOE's objectives are focused on the school environment, and on ensuring good teaching and learning outcomes in school. Hence, we will exercise flexibility, and give parents and students greater say on how they wish to use the software after school hours. This will include options to customise their own settings at home, or to turn off the software if they so prefer. MOE will provide more details on these arrangements as we progressively roll out the PLDs across all secondary schools.

Share this article: