Electronic Frontier Foundation’s report: Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy.

It’s worth a read.

I work in two different school systems (K-12 & higher ed) and both use Google services for student use. Google monetizes it’s user base in a variety of ways. It has established an ecosystem for schools that undercuts all competitors when it comes to the bottom line.

The EFF’s report doesn’t speculate as to why Google (or any of the other cloud based services that a school system might use) collects that data or what it is used for. In fact, I think that it’d be irrelevant to the point of the report, which is “This data is getting harvested, why is it getting harvested, and how should I feel about it?”

However, before you think I’ve got my tin foil hat on too tight, the systems that are provided by Google are easy to administrate and cheap on the socialized public school systems’ tight budgets. Google (and, again, others) may not necessarily be mining student usage data for any sort of malicious ends. And, to the best of my ability to observe, the K-12 school system that I work for does have forms that explain the systems to parents and require consent to use.

But, I do want to see some legislation happen that clearly outlines how private companies can and cannot harvest usage data from minors that are engaged in compulsory, public education.