Home » Tech News » Laptops and applications are used to spy on students, according to an EFF study

Laptops and applications are used to spy on students, according to an EFF study

There is more and more technology in the classrooms. In the United States, students are receiving laptops for educational purposes, which are connected to cloud services through which they receive the teaching material. The way in which privacy is treated in these services is going through great changes, something that concerns the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

In the framework of the last study that has been conducted, it has been determined that students are being spied on through the laptops that are delivered to them. Considering that almost half of the machines in the electronic education system are Chromebooks, this can be a problem for the Great G and its plan to continue reigning in American classrooms.

Something that the EFF has put a lot of emphasis on is that educational technology services do not have enough protection in terms of privacy. At least 152 services dedicated to education with electronic devices have “problematic tendencies”, which translate into:

  • Lack of data encryption.
  • Obligatory data retention practices.
  • Inadequate identification and disidentification protocols.

These problematic tendencies go far beyond being able to unequivocally indicate someone on the Internet through data such as the date of birth of the student or his name. You can also collect browsing or search history , as well as contact lists and how the user behaves online.

Some programs upload this data to the cloud automatically and by default. And in most cases it happens without the student or their families consent for it, since they are not informed in an appropriate way.

The conclusions of the EFF

The study was conducted through a questionnaire that was published in the EFF Newsletter between December 2015 and January 2017. Of all those who participated, a group of 1034 people was selected, who were interviewed more thoroughly in accordance with what they had answered.

First, it was determined that users experienced a “huge lack of transparency” in terms of student privacy. In many cases, parents were not informed that technology was going to be used in the classroom, nor that student data would be collected.

On the other hand, communication between the parties must improve to generate greater confidence. The centers must know how to answer the parents’ questions about the data collected by the devices. Otherwise, the implementation of technology in education will be much more difficult.

In addition, there is very little freedom of choice. Alternatives to technology education must be offered. The EFF has seen in this survey that there are no alternatives for traditional education and, those who want their children not to participate in classes with computer equipment, the barriers with which they have been found are almost insurmountable.

Both parents, students, and teachers are betting that privacy is safeguarded by technological means with guarantees, since “good privacy policies are not enough” according to the EFF.

Finally, the EFF points out that both students and professors need better technological training oriented towards privacy. Both groups have complained that their personal data was passed to Google for the company to create the accounts that were on their devices without being notified about it. The parents were not informed either until the technology was already used in class.

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