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see who is tracking her

For most of us, “data” is invisible. We can’t see the bits of data being collected and shared and tracked about us when we are online. We can’t see who is collecting this data, or who is watching what we do when we are online. How can you know if a school’s online vendor or company is complying with their data privacy policy or your school’s  contract?   There’s an app  (or two) for that. 

Disclaimer: Neither the author or MEW are promoting the use of these apps, neither has any ties to said privacy apps. We do not stand to make money from telling you about these apps.  There may be other apps or similar products available. This is merely a public service, so that you, the public, can be more informed and perhaps take what you find to your school board or legislator as evidence of online data collected and shared.

Lightbeam (Free.  Anyone can use.)

lightbeam site

Lightbeam will create a record of events for every site you visit
and every third party site that is stored locally on your browser.
 Think of Lightbeam as showing third party vendors who may have been contracted to analyze or package your data.
Step by step Lightbeam  instructions, via Graphite on the Common Sense privacy and security website:
* Install Firefox browser if you haven’t already done so
* Disable all ad blockers and other defensive protections that we use when browsing the web. These tools are great when we’re working online, but can actually block issues we need to see when testing.
* Install Lightbeam for Firefox* Run through the steps to prepare Firefox for testing Lightbeam
With the above preparations in place:
1. Login to a website you would like to test, (ie: We logged in to an educational website using a student account. We could see what third parties are accessing / using data from this student account.) Lightbeam will record all calls to any third party trackers.
2. Once logged onto the website/application you are testing, navigate to any pages where a person can add information and/or connect to an external system. Take screenshots of these pages, and if possible, add in as little information as possible. When taking screenshots, be sure to include the URL bar so you can track the exact page the screenshot was taken. Also, make sure your screenshot contains no personal information you don’t want to share (in some cases, this requires editing the screenshot to blurr out names of school or student).
3. Navigate through the site, and look for any social sharing icons (ie: FB, Twitter, etc) – these can leak data out.
The screenshots where data is entered will give a clear sense of what data can be collected. The list of trackers (from Lightbeam) will show what 3rd parties are on the site (not all 3rd parties have ad/data mining purposes). The combination of data entry screens, 3rd party trackers, and their terms will allow you to triangulate who is accessing data. You can share this information with your principal, school board or legislators.
Below is an example of one screen we saw when we looked at Naviance, via Lightbeam. To see more examples, click  here
lightbeam naviance



Ghostery  (Free. Anyone can use.)

“Millions of consumers rely on the free Ghostery Browser Extension and mobile app to control how they are tracked online.”  Ghostery lets you see the data brokers tracking you and it lets you block them.




Privacy Badger  (Free. Anyone can use.)

“When it comes to stopping online tracking cookies, Privacy Badger don’t give a flip what the advertisers say. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a tool to help privacy-conscious users enforce their do-not-track wishes on uncooperative websites and third-party advertising companies. (EFF also has a website where you can leave feedback about what online devices or apps your school asks students to use. See EFF’s  Spying on Students site.)

EFF, the online rights group created  Privacy Badger, an add-on for Chrome and Firefox built to destroy third-party cookies and other trackers. Privacy Badger automatically detects and blocks third-party trackers that follow you across the web collecting data about your browsing habits.

But don’t think of Privacy Badger as an ad blocker in the vein of AdBlock Plus. Instead, the EFF add-on is built to only stop third-party tracking that happens across the web. So if an ad pops up without tracking cookies enabled, you’ll see it. Lucky for you, privacy loving user, most ads are loaded with trackers”. –PC World

privacy badger



Kryptowire (Not free)

According to IAPP “Fairfax, Virginia-based security startup Kryptowire offers a service that analyzes mobile apps to determine security vulnerabilities in third-party apps found in the Android and Apple app stores. More broadly, and in addition to these tools, Kryptowire offers anti-piracy solutions, security analytics, and mobile brand protection.”

Krypotowire is partnering with  the Accountability Program [as a service of the Bettter Business Bureau]  “in monitoring mobile applications’ compliance with the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-Regulatory Principles in the challenging world of mobile. The Accountability Program protects consumer privacy in the digital advertising marketplace by ensuring all companies engaged in interest-based advertising provide transparency and control to consumers about the collection and use of their data for use in tailored advertising.”

Kryptowire is a product vetted by the military, financial institutions and Kryptowire tools are available for purchase and free demo.  

Click  here to read more and see the video about Kryptowire.  The video does an exceptional job at showing how online data is collected and profiled.


Ask your school if they use tools similar to  Lightbeam or Kryptowire.  Ask if they are making sure vendors are abiding by contract policy and law.     If they collect it, schools should protect it.


Cheri Kiesecker