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Privacy Evaluation for Canvas

Last updated January 9, 2020

Overview

Canvas by Instructure provides a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that connects digital tools and resources for teachers. This evaluation covers the cloud based service offered by the vendor, not the open source codebase available on Github. The terms state Canvas collects a wide range of information about students from work submissions, assessment scores, content feedback, and learning tools. The terms state Canvas does not display advertising to a user, but automatically collects data analytics about a student's usage of the service and shares a student's personal information with third-party service providers in order to offer its services. In addition to its LMS, the terms state Canvas provides forums for users to post messages and respond to other user’s messages. Any forum posts or comments will show usernames, and any information posted by a user can be read, collected, and shared by others who access them.

Canvas can be accessed through its website. Canvas Teacher is available for download at the iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. Canvas Student is available for download at the iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. Canvas Parent is available for download at the iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store.

The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use accessed for this evaluation can be found on Canvas' website, and iOS App Store. However, there is no Privacy Policy available from the link provided in the Google Play Store. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Safety

The terms of Canvas state they provide a learning management system (LMS) for students and teachers that includes forums for users to post messages and respond to other user’s messages. The terms state any forum posts or comments will show usernames, and any information posted by a user can be read, collected, and shared by others who access them. In addition, the terms state the Service may, but is not obligated to, monitor or review a user’s interactions with other users and content.

Privacy

The terms of Canvas state they collect personal information about a student and teacher to provide its cloud-based learning management system (LMS) to teachers and schools. The terms state the Service collects a wide range of information about students from work submissions, assessment scores, content feedback, and other learning tools. The Service does not display advertising to a user, but automatically collects data analytics about a student's usage of the service and shares a student's personal information with third-party service providers in order to offer its services to a user. In addition, the vendor uses de-identified data and anonymized data for its own internal purposes. The terms specify that Canvas may share de-identified and aggregated data with other third parties.

Security

The terms specify that Canvas takes reasonable steps to help protect a user’s personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. The terms specify that users must notify the vendor immediately of any unauthorized use of their password or any other breach of security. However, the terms do not provide any detailed information about security, data protection practices, or breach notifications.

Compliance

The terms of Canvas do not say whether they provide a special child or student account is available for users under the age of 13. However, the terms do specify users are able to access, update, review, or delete their personal information at any time. The terms do not discuss any specific student data privacy protections and teachers should review their school policies before use.

Data Collection
SCORE: 40%

What data does it collect?

  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected.
  • The categories of collected personally identifiable information are indicated.
  • Collection or use of data is limited to product requirements.
  • Unclear whether this product collects geolocation data.
  • Unclear whether this product collects biometric or health data.
  • Unclear whether this product collects behavioral data.
  • Unclear whether this product collects sensitive data.
  • Non-personally identifiable information is collected.
  • Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
  • Unclear whether personal information of users is collected by a third party.
Data Sharing
SCORE: 85%

What data does it share?

  • Collected information is shared with third parties.
  • The categories of information shared with third parties are indicated.
  • The purpose for sharing a user's personal information with third parties is indicated.
  • The categories of third parties that receive personal information are indicated.
  • Data are shared for analytics.
  • Unclear whether data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Data are shared with third-party service providers.
  • The roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
  • Social or federated login is supported.
  • Contractual limits are placed on third-party data use.
Data Security
SCORE: 30%

How does it secure data?

  • Unclear whether a user's identity is verified with additional personal information.
  • Account creation is required.
  • Unclear whether parental controls or managed accounts are available.
  • Unclear whether two-factor account protection is available.
  • Unclear whether third-party contractual security protections are required.
  • Industry best practices are used to protect data.
  • Unclear whether this product limits employee or physical access to user information.
  • Unclear whether this product encrypts all data in transit.
  • Unclear whether this product encrypts all data at rest.
  • Notice is provided in the event of a data breach.
Data Rights
SCORE: 65%

What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Users retain ownership of their data.
  • Processes to access and review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
  • A data-retention policy is available.
  • Processes for the school, parents, or students to delete data are available.
  • Unclear whether a user's data are deleted upon account cancellation or termination.
  • Unclear whether this product deletes data when no longer necessary.
  • Permissions, roles, or access controls are available to restrict who has access to data.
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to download their data.
Data Sold
SCORE: 25%

Is the data sold?

  • Unclear whether data are sold or rented to third parties.
  • Unclear whether users can opt out from the disclosure or sale of their data to a third party.
  • User information can be transferred to a third party.
  • Users are notified if their information is transferred to a third party.
  • Unclear whether user information can be deleted prior to its transfer to a third party.
  • Unclear whether third-party transfers are contractually required to use the same privacy practices.
  • User information is shared in an anonymous or deidentified format.
  • Unclear whether the vendor describes their deidentification process of user information.
  • Unclear whether data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying deidentified information.
Data Safety
SCORE: 45%

How safe is this product?

  • Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information is shared for social interactions.
  • Personal information is displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed.
  • User-created content is not reviewed, screened, or monitored by the vendor.
  • Unclear whether user-created content is filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
  • Social interactions between users are not moderated.
  • Unclear whether social interactions of users are logged.
  • Unclear whether users can report abuse or cyberbullying.
Ads & Tracking
SCORE: 65%

Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are not displayed.
  • Behavioral or targeted 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.
  • Data profiles are not created and used for data enhancement, and/or targeted advertisements.
  • The vendor can send marketing messages.
  • Unclear whether this vendor provides promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to opt-out of traditional, contextual, or behavioral advertising.
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
Parental Consent
SCORE: 0%

Can I provide parental consent?

  • Unclear whether intended for children under 13.
  • Unclear whether this product collects personal information online from children under 13 years of age.
  • Unclear whether intended for parents or guardians.
  • Unclear whether vendor has actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • Unclear whether children's privacy is applicable.
  • Unclear whether this product requires parental consent.
  • Unclear whether this product limits parental consent with respect to third parties.
  • Unclear whether this product allows parents to withdraw consent for the further collection of their child's information.
  • Unclear whether this product deletes children's personal information if collected without parental consent.
  • Unclear whether this product provides parental consent notice and method for submission.
School Purpose
SCORE: 0%

Is the product intended for school?

  • Unclear whether intended for students.
  • Unclear whether personal information or education records are collected from preK-12 students.
  • Unclear whether intended for teachers.
  • Unclear whether this product is primarily used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades preK–12.
  • Unclear whether the product creates education records.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notification of a contract or additional rights.
  • Unclear whether this product designates the vendor as a school official.
  • Unclear whether this product transfers parental consent obligations to the school or district.
  • Unclear whether the vendor indicates FERPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether this product discloses directory information.

Common Sense Standard Privacy Report (SPR)

The standard privacy report (SPR) displays all the privacy practices from a product's policies in a single, easy-to-read outline. The report shows a green check mark for better privacy practices and an orange alert for risky or unclear practices. This alert indicates that more time should be focused on these particular details prior to use.

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 help educators make informed decisions about the potential privacy implications of educational technology used to support teaching and learning.

Our core evaluation criteria will always be freely available. People are encouraged to read the questions we use and our information security primer. 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.