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IPFS News Link • Surveillance

Under Guise of 'Helping' Schools, Big Tech Collects -- and Profits From -- Kids' Data

• By Jeremy Loffredo

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to more than 90% of the world's students not physically attending schools. As a result, schools worldwide are turning to online learning service providers, or education technology commonly known as EdTech.

Market analysts expect the emerging "smart education" market to be worth about $680 billion by 2027. But the EdTech industry's ability to collect massive amounts of data on students and its potential to transform curricula has groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) concerned.

In March, the ACLU warned:

"Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity for EdTech companies to make the use of their privacy-violating educational products nearly universal, there is a real risk that these companies, under the guise of a generous act, will use this opportunity to create personal information dossiers on an entire generation of young Americans."

A look at some existing EdTech projects offers insights into what's ahead. For example, one nonprofit, Enlearn, provides an online platform where students interact with materials that adapt to their progress, and teachers get real-time data about individual students.

Enlearn's artificial intelligence (AI) software "continuously learns and improves itself over time." Enlearn's privacy policy is vague, allowing the nonprofit to share personal data with third parties to enforce its own terms or service, to prevent fraud, to prevent technical issues, to protect its own legal rights or to carry out the requests of its users.