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Updated December 20, 2018

Newsela

  • 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 displayed.
  • Data are collected by third-party advertising or tracking services.
  • Data are used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Third parties can 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

Newsela is an online news-as-literacy platform that features current, high-interest articles on everything from current events to myths and legends. All articles are Common Core-aligned and available in five Lexile levels, ranging from third to 12th grade and include quizzes and writing prompts. The terms do not specifically address whether social interactions are available or whether personal information can be made publicly visible. In addition, the terms state that Newsela may create advertisements shown to teachers and administrators that reflect the interests and capabilities of their students, and communicate with teachers and administrators about promotions and other news about products offered by Newsela. The terms of Newsela state that the transmission of data is encrypted and that reasonable security steps are taken to release information only to third parties who are capable of maintaining the confidentiality, security, and integrity of the information. Lastly, the terms state Newsela is intended to be used by children of all ages and to the extent required by FERPA, the service requires that each school notify a student's parents or legal guardians of their child's use of the service.

Newsela can be accessed through its website, and is available for download at the iOS App Store, and Chrome Web Store. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use used for this evaluation can be found on Newsela’s website, iOS App Store, and Chrome web Store. 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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The terms do not specifically address whether social interactions are available or whether personal information can be made publicly visible. However, teachers are in control of student accounts, access, and assignments. In addition, the terms of Newsela state that student personal information is only used to provide the service and is not shared with third parties for other purposes.

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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According to the terms of Newsela, children under 13 years of age cannot create their own accounts which are created and controlled by their teacher. Personal information collected by the service includes first and last name, country, postal code, email address, username, password, and other information, including demographic information and details about the classroom, school, and students. The terms state that Newsela may create advertisements shown to teachers and administrators that reflect the interests and capabilities of their students, and communicate with teachers and administrators about promotions and other news about products offered by Newsela. However, the terms further specify Newsela never directs targeted advertising at children and Newsela adheres to the Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising.

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 Newsela state that the transmission of data is encrypted and that reasonable security steps are taken to release information only to third parties who are capable of maintaining the confidentiality, security, and integrity of the information. The terms further state Newsela will rely on instructions that they reasonably believe are given by a teacher, parent or legal guardian in connection with a student. However, the terms do not disclose whether notice is provided in the event of a data breach.

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 state Newsela is intended to be used by children of all ages and to the extent required by FERPA, the service requires that each school notify a student's parents or legal guardians of their child's use of the service. According to the terms, anyone under the age of 13 may not register for a learner account and can only use the services if a teacher, parent or administrator provides them with a student account. The terms further state that the service allows a teacher or parent to access, modify, or delete student information and may prohibit Newsela from disclosing a child's personal information to a third party. Lastly, the terms state that a student’s personal information will be retained only as long as is reasonably necessary to fulfill the purpose for which the information was collected.

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.