By Daniel Lang
There was widespread outrage back in 2010, when it was discovered that a Philadelphia school district had issued laptops to students with a very creepy function. Unbeknown to both students and parents, school officials had the ability to remotely access the webcams on the laptops, and spy on the students in their homes. Seven years later, school-issued computers are still spying on students, albeit in more subtle ways.
According to an investigation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (which was recently analyzed by Brietbart), a third of K-12 schools in the US are issuing free and low-cost computers to students. However, like most computer-based services that are supposedly free, there’s a hidden cost.
The education programs on these computers are collecting tons of very personal data. And unlike when someone signs up for Facebook, which has user agreements that need to be signed, parents are often not being notified of this wholesale data collection by the school districts, nor are they given the chance to consent to it.
Even when they find out about this data collection, parents aren’t given the ability to opt-out of it. They’re often chastised for being “paranoid” by school officials. The data is supposedly being collected to give students a personalized education experience. That data includes browsing history, location, contact lists, and behavioral information. It’s also being uploaded to cloud services without the knowledge of parents.