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Tech companies are spying on students in school

In modern times, data privacy is becoming a critical concern. With the recent outage on Facebook’s privacy violations of its user’s data, the discussion has only gained momentum. But turns out, social media is not the only place prone to malicious activity. Apart from the concerned people within an educational organization, tech companies have access to a lot of student data that makes parents and teachers increasingly uncomfortable.

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According to a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), tech companies spy on students through data collection, and many educational technology firms don’t have proper protections in place to ensure privacy. From their birth dates to what they look online, laptops, tablets and wearable devices collect information on individual students. The 152 tech services currently used in classrooms were investigated by EFF and it was found that found they “were lacking in encryption, data retention and data sharing policies.”

Over 1000 people from the US were surveyed by the organization. While the report is not a comprehensive representation of school systems, it shows that parents, teachers and students are concerned about the state of privacy. The main concern according to the report is that the parents aren’t always aware of what apps their kids are using, or what information they collect. Parents are concerned that edtech companies might use their kids’ emails, personal information or interests to create targeted advertisement content.

Violating its own data use policy, 20 million student records from the college and job planning platform ConnectEDU were sold to other companies without first alerting users in 2014. Technologically, education is always 10 to 15 years behind. But we’re seeing a lot of businesses get embarrassed by not having solid security practices, and schools are going to have to figure that out, too.

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