Google and Kiddie Data Allegations

April 15, 2019

I read a compelling essay published in TribLive. The title? “Protect Kids from Google Predators.” The short write up does a good job of identifying the basic mechanism for collecting information about students. Here’s a passage I noted:

Google now has 80 million educators and students around the world using G Suite for Education, 40 million students and teachers in Google Classroom and 30 million more using Google Chromebooks inside and outside the classroom.

The data collection is ubiquitous, just like other Google functions. These intercept and logging functions are baked into the system. As Google staff turns over, the specifics of some of these fundamental plumbing and utility services are like services buried in Windows 10 and Word. Fish don’t understand water; users don’t understand a non-Google environment.

The write up adds:

K-12 children in tens of thousands of schools began the academic year by lining up at the library to create Gmail accounts and Google Classroom logins without parental notification or permission. There’s no escape: No Google, no access. No access, no education. “Hell, some of the teachers don’t even teach the kids,” one parent complained to me. Instead, they “watch videos on Canvas or on their Chromebooks. Canvas (by Instructure) is one of myriad “learning management systems” that stores students’ grades, homework assignments, videos, quizzes and tests — all integrated with almighty, all-powerful, omniscient Google. Google apps such as ClassDojo collect intimate behavioral data and long-term psychological profiles encompassing family information, personal messages, photographs and voice notes. The collection of such data is a nanny state nightmare in the making, as a new Pioneer Institute report on “social, emotional learning” software and assessments outlined this month. Meanwhile, preschoolers are being trained to flash “Clever Badges” with QR codes in front of their Google Chromebook webcams. These badges “seamlessly” log them into Google World and all its apps without all the “stress” of remembering passwords. Addicted toddlers are being indoctrinated into the screen time culture without learning how to exercise autonomy over their own data.

DarkCyber believes that more attention to this Google “feature” may be warranted. I know an apology from Google may be forthcoming, but perhaps parents are tiring of apologies and having their children tracked and their privacy compromised?

Stephen E Arnold, April 15, 2019

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