Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Russia Today Takes Today's Prize for Finding Spies in the Cabbages

Let's commence with the headline, shall we.

RT:  School-issued computers spy on children in US without parental consent – digital rights group

This article is top-to-bottom bullshit but let's not dismiss it too quickly.

The quick summary is there was no spying, parental consent had nothing to do with it, and the actual problem was coming from shabby security provided by the vendors who seek to capitalize ed-tech as quickly as possible.

Obligatory picture of kids using computers in case you never saw that before.

© Judith Thomandl / Global Look Press

The kid on the left reads a real book and the one on the right plays with a computer.  Which one do you think will wind up a prostitute in the gutter addicted to meth.

Ed:  is that what computers do?

Let's see if they know their multiplication tables, huh?  What do you bet at least one of them and probably the computer user will just stare at you.  I've seen these hipster grasshoppers unable to make change in convenience stores because they can't do the arithmetic.  Do you suppose those kids are readers or the ones who just push buttons on iPhones?

School-issued computer devices – provided to one-third of school children across the US – collect excessive amounts of highly sensitive personal data on the students without parental consent or even prior notice, a new study finds.

Electronic devices distributed in US schools collect unprecedented amounts of personal data on children as young as five years old, according to a new report by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), dubbed ‘Spying on Students’ – the result of a two-year study.

The surveillance comes under the guise of “personalized education.” Roughly one-third of primary and secondary education (K-12) students have received various electronic devices. Many tech companies provide electronic devices for free or a steeply reduced fee, as they seek their share in the $8 billion education technology (ed-tech) market.

- RT

That sounds awful, doesn't it.  Continue to see what was really happening.

Ed-tech, however, can be described as “the world’s most data-mineable industry by far,” according to the report, as the devices use apps and software which collect highly sensitive personal information, including names, dates of birth, browsing history and location data of children. Providers of ed-tech services, however, often fail to protect sensitive data.

- RT

There we approach truth.  Software vendors are trying to tap into a gold mine but often do a shabby job of protecting anyone while they do it.

The researchers “investigated the 152 ed tech services reported as in use in classrooms, and found troubling trends in their privacy policies regarding lack of encryption, opaque data retention practices, and inadequate data aggregation and de-identification.” Only 118 of them had published privacy policies, while some sort of encryption was mentioned in only 46 of them, and de-identification or aggregation of user data was mentioned in 51. De-identification – the prevention of linking a person’s identity with information – was almost exclusively mentioned in connection with providing information to third parties about their services, according to the report.

The potentially dangerous devices are also often distributed without parental consent or notice. Parents sometimes do not receive any information about ed-tech until after the technology is implemented, according to the study.

- RT

Parental information would not be required if the schools showed any responsibility regarding the software they acquire but obviously they don't.  The devices are dangerous because of the shit security in them and not because of the way they're used.

“Staff and student details – that is, full names and school email addresses – were passed to Google to create individual logins without consent from staff. I’m not sure about consent from parents,” a teacher wrote on social media, according to the report.

- RT

So what?  With quality software, this would be irrelevant.

Parents who expressed privacy concerns were often not able to opt out of the programs, as the authorities for some reasons protected interests of ed-tech providers instead of users. For example, when a California teacher allowed a schoolgirl to use her own device instead of a school-issued device after her parents voiced concerns over her privacy, district officials intervened and prohibited such exceptions, according to the report.

- RT

Good chance if the device isn't customized for this particular ed-tech then it won't work and there's no damn conspiracy; there's a great deal of corporate incompetence but no conspiracy.

“While schools are eagerly embracing digital devices and services in the classroom – and ed tech vendors are racing to meet the demand – student privacy is not receiving the attention it deserves,” the study concluded. “Meaningful improvements in student data protection will require changes in state and federal law, in school and district priorities, and in ed tech company policies and practices.”

- RT

In case you paid more attention to the article than the hacks who wrote it, you saw they already noted the problem.

Providers of ed-tech services, however, often fail to protect sensitive data.

- RT

In a previous paragraph, that was the problem but it's back to being the schools by the end.  Usually it's The Guardian coming up with crap as slanted as this but RT has done a yeoman's job of this one.

The best part and the beauty part is that which they left out of the article.  Think software doesn't improve brain function in the first place.  The software is an almost total waste of money.

Ithaka:  If You Think the Think Games Make You Think Better ... Think Again - Science

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