"Free" cloud services erode student privacy

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Do you know who’s peering over your child’s shoulder at school? It’s not just the teacher.

Technology has enabled schools to completely overhaul how they collect, store, and control access to sensitive student data. A recent survey by Fordham’s Center on Law and Information Privacy found that “95 percent of schools rely on cloud services for a diverse range of functions,” including data hosting, planning bus routes, classroom instruction and assessments.

Many schools also use free apps for instruction or homework assignments. But these “freemiums” aren’t actually free – they’re paid for with students’ privacy. Thousands of public school districts, for example, are now using Google’s Apps for Education, a suite of web-based tools including their popular email service Gmail. Google now admits it scans and indexes the emails of these student accounts.

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