It’s bad enough that Facebook is exploiting the data of minors who have accounts on Facebook. Now, the newest assault on childrens’ privacy is the recent decision to allow marketers access to the data in a massive databsase that contains the private data of millions of children – k-12 students – incuding their name and address, test scores, attendance records, sometimes even their social security number, and which lists whether they have learning disabilities, and more. So far New York and Louisiana have expressed their intention to enter the data of nearly all of their students, and Massachusetts, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, Delaware and Colorado have said they will enter data from “select districts”.
The database was primarily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and education officials from several states are involved. After development was completed, by Ruper Murdoch’s “Amplify Education” project, it was turned over to the nonprofit created just for the purpose of administering the database, inBloom Inc..
The massive national database is subject to Federal law, which permits local officials to share the information about their local students with companies that sell related products and services.
Unnamed Federal officials with the Department of Education have been quoted as saying the project complies with privacy laws, and that schools don’t need parental consent to share student records with “any school official who has a legitimate educational interest,” noting that the definition of ‘school official’ can include private companies hired by the school.
Says Jeffrey Olen with educational software company CompassLearning, “This is going to be a huge win for us.”
We’ll bet it is. But it seems like a huge loss for the children and their families.
CompassLearning is just one of several such companies who are attending SXSWedu, to pitch the ways that they will
exploit mine this rich vein of data.
And, there is no guarantee that only these companies will have access to the data. A detailed article on the issue, in Reuters, notes that even inBloom itself states that inBloom “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored … or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”
This is all only slightly better than when England decided to create a database of all children
You can read more about this issue in this Reuters article.