Cheri Kiesecker is a Colorado parent who pays close attention to technology that invades student privacy.
She left the following warning as a comment:
In response to the question about GAFE. Below are a few links that may be of help.
GAFE, Google, Chromebooks… seem to suffer transparency issues on how they track and use and analyze student data. When parents have asked to see what data points Google collects, how that information is analyzed, who it is shared with, there are no transparent answers.
Many privacy organizations and advocates have concerns and questions about the algorithms used and data collection/ sharing in GAFE.
Google Chromebooks are pre-set to send student data, all user activity, back to Google.
This article explains how ChromeSync feature tracks students. Some schools purposely leave the SYNC feature on. Others, however, turn off Sync before asking students to use Chromebooks. MANY schools and parents are NOT AWARE of the Chrome Sync tracking feature.
This blog does a great job explaining GAFE issues in Where The Sidewalk Ends: Wading Through Google’s Terms of Service for Education:
Google defines a narrow set of applications as “core” Apps for Edu services. These services are exempt from having ads displayed alongside user content, and from having their data used for “Ads purposes”. However, apps outside the core services – like YouTube, Blogger, and Picasa – are not covered by the terms of service that restrict ads. The same is true for integrations of third party apps that can be enabled within the Google Apps admin interface, and then accessed by end users. So, when a person in a Google Apps for Edu environment watches a video on YouTube, writes or reads a post on Blogger, or accesses any third party app enabled via Google Apps, their information is no longer covered under the Google Apps for Education terms.
To put it another way: as soon as a person with a Google Apps for Education account strays outside the opaque and narrowly defined “safe zone” everything they do can be collected, stored, and mined.
So, the next time you hear someone say, “Google apps doesn’t use data for advertising” ask them to explain what happens to student data when a student starts in Google apps, and then goes to Blogger, or YouTube, or connects to any third party integration.” read more…
EFF COMPLAINT against GOOGLE
The privacy watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a complaint with the FTC about Google’s deceptive tracking of students.
Chrome books are set to send back students’ entire browsing history to Google but that is not all.
Google’s Student Tracking Isn’t Limited to Chrome Sync
Many media reports on (as well as at least one response to) the FTC complaint we submitted yesterday about Google’s violation of the Student Privacy Pledge have focused heavily on one issue—Google’s use of Chrome Sync data for non-educational purposes. This is an important part of our complaint, but we want to clarify that Google has other practices which we are just as concerned about, if not more so.
In particular, the primary thrust of our complaint focuses on how Google tracks and builds behavioral profiles on students when they navigate to Google-operated sites outside of Google Apps for Education. We’ve tried to explain this issue in both our complaint and our FAQ, but given its significance we think it’s worth explaining again.
To understand what’s going on, you first have to understand that when it comes to education, Google divides its services into two categories: Google Apps for Education (GAFE), which includes email, Calendar, Talk/Hangouts, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Contacts, and the Apps Vault; and everything else, which includes Google Search, Blogger, Bookmarks, Books, Maps, News, Photos, Google+, and YouTube, just to name a few.
Google has promised not to build profiles on students or serve them ads only within Google Apps for Education services. When a student goes to a different Google service, however, and they’re still logged in under their educational account, Google associates their activity on that service with their educational account, and then serves them ads on at least some of those non-GAFE services based on that activity.
In other words, when a student logs into their educational account, and then uses Google News to create a report on current events, or researches history using Google Books, or has a geography lesson using Google Maps, or watches a science video on YouTube, Google tracks that activity and feeds it into an ad profile attached to the student’s educational account—even though Google knows that the person using that account is a student, and the account was created for educational purposes.
This is our biggest complaint about Google’s practices—that despite having promised not to track students, Google is abusing its position of power as a provider of some educational services to profit off of students’ data when they use other Google services—services that Google has arbitrarily decided don’t deserve any protection. read more
Google and other apps may be “free”, but as privacy experts warn, your child’s data is the price. GAFE is just one example of needing transparent and enforceable privacy laws to protect students and why schools and teachers should read the privacy policies, terms of service surrounding data collection and use…and communicate that information with parents before signing a child up for GAFE or any app. Ideally, every parent should be given the choice to opt-in, as many parents are not aware of data privacy issues surrounding edtech.
…and as privacy groups warn, Google is playing with [COPPA] fire in promoting GAFE to children under 13.