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Media: Reuters Story On Data Sharing May Overstate Problem

Over the weekend, Reuters' Stephanie Simon wrote a piece about inBloom, the new Gates-funded data-sharing intiative, that raises concerns about student privacy: K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents. According to Simon, the $100M initiative is poised to be tremendously influential -- and controversial -- because of the possiblity that student data including Social Security numbers would be gathered from states and shared among educators.

However, there are some questions about Reuters story.  For example, inBloom says Social Security numbers are not included in its data store and that the use of the data will be done at the direction of school districts.  [Via Twitter, Simon says "inBloom rep told me some social sec #s included; now says no; I'll verify w schools, correct if needed."]

I'm no edtech fanboy, and generally enjoy and appreciate Simon's education coverage.  (There's a quote at the end of her story about edtech hype that is awesome.)  But this piece, like her last one on charter school shenanigans, seems somewhat alarmist and goes out past the edges of the data shared in the story.

Are there problems with state databases being being hacked and releasing sensitive student data? Tell us about them.  How do these issues compare to data security problems in general?  How many states include Social Security data in their student records, and how does this compare with other public agency databases, which have their own Social Security problems? Once again, some context and comparative data would be more helpful than isolated data points suggestively linked together to convey fear.  

Comments

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Like Murdoch's companies have been really great about respecting private information. If you don't know the Murdoch link go read the story.

It's not outsiders getting in that is major cause of data leaks, it's insiders using the data for things it was intended to be used for. Just giving children's individual data to Gates at all (go read the story), is the first step in using the data in ways it was never inteneded to be used for (and all without permission of the children's parents).

I've certainly been a proponent for better standards for sharing data between applications, and better technology for aggregating data at the district level, and to a certain extent at the state level, but from my reading, this is a radical leap.

Are we really going to put essentially all the data we collect about every student from K-12 in the whole country into a single system primarily designed and implemented by the subsidiary of a multinational corporation known -- KNOWN -- to have participated REPEATEDLY in hacking schemes and with a penchant for political shenanigans.

I find it incredible that more blogs and forums are not as pleasant as this one. Often times when I land on a website page the articles and other content is so deficient that I move on without delay. That is not the case here. Thanks so much.

Thankfully reformers like Russo have NEVER overstated concerns about public schools and teachers. Where does Ms. Simon get off subjecting the Gates/Murdoch elitist school reform cult to such merciless scrutiny? I'm appalled.

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