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Updated January 10, 2018

Branchingminds

  • Privacy polices do indicate a version or effective date.
  • Data are not sold or rented to third parties.
  • Data are not shared for advertising or marketing.
  • Behavioral or contextual advertising is not displayed.
  • Data are not collected by third-party advertising or tracking services.
  • Data are not used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Unclear whether this product allows third parties to use data to create ad profiles, data enhancement, and/or targeted advertisements.
The criteria for "Use with Caution" are narrowly focused around data uses related to creating profiles that aren't related to any educational purpose, and using data to target ads. We include both first party (ie, the vendor that builds the service) and third party (any company given access by the vendor) data use. It's worth highlighting that using data to profile students violates multiple state laws, and in some cases also violates federal law.

A service can be designated "Use with Caution" for either a lack of transparency around data use -- which creates the potential for profiling and behavioral targeting -- or for clearly stating that they use data to target advertisements and/or create profiles. As with any application being considered for use within schools, school and/or district staff should review the privacy policies and terms of service to ensure that they meet the legal and practical requirements of their state laws and school policies.

As with the "Not Recommended" criteria, a "Use with Caution" designation is NOT a sign that a vendor is necessarily doing anything unethical or illegal. It is a sign that, based on publicly available policies,  we do not have adequate guarantees that data will not be used by first or third parties to create non-educational profiles or to target behavioral ads.
Use with Caution
Full evaluation
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Overall Scoreinfo-bubble

This overall score represents how the service addressed all our evaluation questions. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive policies.

Overview

Branching Minds is a paid service that supports timely and personalized learning interventions for students. Branching Minds collects a broad range of potentially sensitive information about students, and can be used to track contacts with families about a child's learning. The terms of Branching Minds clearly define the data they collect, and how they handle it. The terms of Branching Minds state that data are encrypted both in transit and at rest. The terms also specify that Branching Minds conducts regular security audits and code reviews, and that their "software developers are aware of secure programming practices." The terms of Branching Minds state that Branching Minds is authorized by schools to act as a school official under FERPA. The terms also specify that Branching Minds is used exclusively for an educational purpose, so that schools or districts can provide consent as permitted under COPPA.

Branching Minds can be accessed through its website. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use used for this evaluation can also be found on Branching Mind’s website. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Read the Common Sense standard privacy report (SPR)arrow
The standard privacy report (SPR) displays the most important privacy practices from a product’s polices in a single easy-to-read outline. The report displays an alert when a particular privacy practice is risky, unclear, or not evaluated. This alert indicates more time should be focused on these particular details prior to use.
SafetyPromoting responsible use
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Evaluating safety takes into consideration best practices that protect a user's physical and emotional health. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to safety.
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Branching Mind's terms state they collect a broad range of potentially sensitive information about students, and the data can be used to track contacts with families about a child's learning. The terms do not contain details about who can see this information within the service, or how access within the service is limited.

PrivacyProtecting collected information
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Evaluating privacy takes into consideration best practices that protect the disclosure of a user's personal information. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to privacy.
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The terms of Branching Minds clearly define the data they collect, and how they handle it. Branching Minds manages learning interventions between students, so the system may contain sensitive information. The terms specify that third party advertisers are not permitted to collect data from the site. The terms also specify that data collected within the platform is primarily used for delivering the service, with a small amount of de-identified data used to improve the service. In addition, the terms state that personal information shared with the service will be destroyed when the relationship with the school is terminated, or when it is no longer needed, and the terms define their data destruction process.

Lastly, the terms specify that users will receive notice either via email or by a message placed on the site, but the terms of service state that the terms can be modified "at any time without notice."

SecurityProtecting against unauthorized access
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Evaluating security takes into consideration best practices that protect the integrity and confidentiality of a user's data. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to security.
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The terms of Branching Minds state data are encrypted both in transit and at rest. The terms also specify that Branching Minds conducts regular security audits and code reviews, and that their "software developers are aware of secure programming practices." The terms also describe physical and procedural safeguards used to protect the locations where data are housed, including intrusion detection systems and multiple forms of identity verification required to access the server facilities. The terms also specify that access to personal information is limited only to Branching Minds employees who need that data to do their job.

ComplianceFollowing statutory laws and regulations
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Evaluating compliance takes into consideration best practices of companies that collect personal information from children or students and the legal obligations for the privacy and security of that information. A higher score (up to 100) means the service provides more transparent and comprehensive responses related to compliance.
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The terms of Branching Minds state the Service is authorized by schools to act as a school official under FERPA. The terms also specify that Branching Minds is used exclusively for an educational purpose, so that schools or districts can provide consent as permitted under COPPA. The terms also specify that parents can review educational data collected by Branching Minds by contacting Branching Minds. The terms specify that a "teacher or school district official provides consent for a child under the age of 13 to use Branching Minds when they create a Branching Minds account for that child."

About Privacy Evaluations

The privacy evaluations have been designed with the help and support of a consortium of schools and districts across the United States. These evaluations are designed to streamline making an informed decision about the potential privacy implications of educational technology used to support teaching and learning.

Our core evaluation criteria are freely available and will remain freely available. People are encouraged to read the questions we use and the information security primer we released. Vendors are encouraged to use our questions and the information security primer to self-evaluate. You can also learn more about our evaluation process.

Please be in touch with any questions or feedback.