EdWeek recently wrote about a study that found Android educational apps from the Google Play Store (remember Google built Android, Google Analytics) are improperly sharing children’s data with third parties. Are we seeing a trend here with tech companies improperly sharing data?  In a word, Yes.  Is it ONLY Facebook or Google?   No.

What third parties are accessing children’s data from school?

Think of the SLDS databases and standardized data tags (thanks to the Gates funded Data Quality Campaign), and all the researchers, and tech companies and apps with access to children’s personal information including behavior, engagement, mindset, and social emotional data.  What third parties are accessing this data?  Are educational vendors sharing it improperly? Who is profiling and predicting your child? How would you know? Who (if anyone) audits these data sharing processes that parents cannot see, cannot consent to, cannot opt out of?

Should we continue to rely on tech companies to police this themselves and lobby Congress for weak privacy laws?  Or should we, as a nation, enact strong privacy, identity protection laws such as Europe’s GDPR which comes with heavy fines for misuse (4% company’s net) and the (some say even stronger) Eu e-Privacy Proposal.  If you think Americans deserve equal protections as Europeans,  tell Congress you want consent and control of data and PENALTIES for breach and misuse of student and citizen data…with no loopholes for the tech industry unicorns.

Regarding the Android app third party sharing study, to quote the EdWeek article, (*Update: because of copyright issue, we cannot share the full EdWeek article with you.)

Thousands of free apps available in the Google Play store are potentially violating a major federal data-privacy law intended to protect children from online tracking, according to a new study published by researchers affiliated with the International Computer Science Institute.

These problems are rampant, and it’s resulting in kids being exposed to targeted advertising and automatic profiling that could be illegal,” said Serge Egelman, who co-authored the report and works as the director of usable security and privacy research at ICSI, which is connected with the University of California, Berkeley.

…Mobile app developers appear to be quite sloppy when determining whether third-party services are protecting children’s information, he said. In turn, those third parties don’t appear to be checking whether they are receiving children’s information from the apps they integrate with. And Egelman said big companies such as Google and Facebook often aren’t taking even the most basic steps to try to limit others’ collection and sharing of children’s information on their platforms.”


Which Android Educational Apps were caught tracking children?

There are thousands. We won’t list them all, but to name only a few: Class Dojo, Remind, Edmodo, Quizlet, Google Classroom, Khan Academy, PBS Kids, Lego,  Schoology, McDonalds, ABC Spelling, BrainPOP, Sesame . Click here for a list and details about each privacy analysis.



The improper tracking of children’s data story was also reported here by Fox News in Tom’s Guide,

While everyone’s in an uproar about Facebook accounts getting skimmed for data, a new study claims that thousands of Android apps are in breach of standards for monitoring kids’ behavior online.

Scott Shackelford, associate professor of Business Law and Ethics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, and Cybersecurity Program Chair, at IU-Bloomington told us “This important study highlights the sad fact that tech companies are simply not doing enough to comply with the regulatory requirements Congress has put into place to help protect vulnerable, and impressionable, kids.

“It’s not a case here of not following the spirit of the law,” he continued, “they don’t seem to be following even its letter.” Shackelford sees the study fitting into our present conversation about social media: This should be a wakeup call to these developers, along with platforms like Google and Facebook that host them. It’s past time to treat privacy—especially for minors—as the human right it is.”  [Emphasis added]

Related: Earlier this week, privacy,  health, and consumer groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether YouTube (also owned by Google) is violating a federal law designed to protect children on the internet. See that story and complaint here.

Still not convinced we need strong laws to protect children’s data? Watch this Michelle Malkin CRTV video clip with Leonie Haimson, Co-founder of Parent Coalition for Student Privacy,  and then ACT.  Tell Congress: stop the student data mining scandal that is happening under our noses.  Return consent and control to parents.




Cheri Kiesecker

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