Sunday, February 15, 2015

There Is No Such Thing As De-Identified Data! Your Child's Privacy Is At Risk.

Though we've researched it to be sure, and said over and over again it wasn't true, ROPE (and parents) have been assured by public school data gatherers such as John Kraman (formerly the Executive Director of Student Information at the Oklahoma State Department of Education, now the Senior Advisor for Education & Workforce at the LARGEST DATA COLLECTION CENTER IN OKLAHOMA, Office of Enterprise and Management Services- OMES - the Director of which was recently arrested on an alcohol complaint with a woman apparently not his wife in the car) that public schools could take whatever data they 'needed' from our children because once it was 'aggregated' or 'de-identified', our children's privacy would be safe. 

This document - from an organization created by the federal government (the same one that changed FERPA laws to mean nothing for student privacy) tasked to provide information on how to protect student data - provides exactly these talking points while explaining what de-identified data means. 

Maybe we'll start getting some traction on our argument after legislators, parents and public school officials watch the following video, however, taken from testimony to the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education during a hearing called, "How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy".  

Lynn watched a huge chunk of this testimony (attended by OK Congressman Steve Russell). She identified a number of very good places to watch for information, but the best information BY FAR, was provided by Joel R. Reidenberg of Fordham University. At 1:30 on the video, Mr. Reidenberg says, 
" can reverse engineer identity with a few characteristics..."
"25% of school contracts were not paid with by cash, they were paid with using their student's privacy - information for services"

Here are some other quotes from other places on the video that might interest you:
  • 55:30 - Alison Knox of Microsoft says, "the third party provider must articulate how the data flows and who has access"
  • 1:02 - Knox talks specifically about how marketers get student information and what happens if 3rd party contract terms are not clear
  • 1:31-1:38 - Steve Russell explains that dis-aggregated data is a myth
  • 1:38-1:39 - Representative Grothman gives examples regarding Google and how Google apps are getting student information because the application is free. He gives examples of the information Google gets and how they use the data to develop products. He also gives examples of how non-transparent the process is and how they can use data in ways not stated in the contracts.
  • 1:47 - Mr. Reidenberg says parents/school officials must be careful of 'forced consent' when a student has to click "accept" and waive their privacy rights to participate in their own education.
We are living in an age where data is becoming all there is to teaching. All we seem to hear about is 'data driving decisions/instruction' - goodness, what did America do to become the foremost economy in the world before there were computers to tell teachers how to teach and children how to learn! I can't believe we were even able to put a man on the moon with the paltry technology available in the 50's and early 60's!

Today, we have a data collection network across Oklahoma that would be a wonder to behold, if it weren't creating data privacy issues for students ALL OVER OKLAHOMA. Just click here to see a PowerPoint presentation put together by John Kraman detailing all the many committees and process by which the state (under Kraman's direction) will collect information on your children. 

It is clear that often, teachers have no idea what kind of information the programs they are being told to use in their classrooms collect. It's clear even principals and superintendents don't have this information. Certainly, it seems as though there are school staff that DON'T WANT parents to have access to this kind of information and that is troubling.

Consequently, it's CLEARLY all up to PARENTS to determine to what their children are exposed to at school. 

Here is an online version of the Parental Bill of Rights passed last year. Please download a copy, read it and USE IT. Pass the information on to your school's staff and other parents. We must be informed if we are to stop the assault on the rights of students to their own - and their family's - privacy. Become your child's own privacy advocate today!