Browsing articles in "Data Collection and Data Privacy"
Dec 29, 2018
ELW

Townhall – Lame-Duck Congress Plays Grinch to Citizens by Passing Anti-Privacy Database Bill

In a new column at Townhall.com, Dr. Effrem explains the dangers of the unrecorded voice vote passage of yet another privacy invading bill by the U.S. Senate, waiting until after the election to pass a bill that dozens of citizen and parent groups opposed when passed by the House in 2017. This excerpt discusses some of the many reasons HR 4174, the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act (FEPA) is so problematic based on a summary and a rebuttal prepared by groups opposing FEPA:

While FEPA itself doesn’t expressly establish a formal data system with a central repository, the bill’s mandates regarding linking and sharing data among multiple federal agencies and thousands of bureaucrats will create essentially the same result: a de facto national database.

The federal government is demonstrably incompetent at data security; moreover, it routinely ignores the overwhelming data it already has showing the ineffectiveness of many (most) federal programs. There is no reason to believe an even more enormous trove of data can be secured, or that it will actually change government behavior in any meaningful way.

Most importantlycollecting and holding massive amounts of data about an individual has an intimidating effect on the individual—even if the data is never used. This fundamentally changes the relationship between the individual and government. Citizen direction of government cannot happen when government sits in a position of intimidation of the individual.

The full commentary is available HERE and has also been discussed at Breitbart.com and EdWeek.org.

Due to the partial government shutdown, the White House comment line is not operating, but you may urge President Trump to veto this egregious violation of citizen led-governance and privacy by emailing him or tweeting to @realDonaldTrump or @POTUS.

 

Jul 31, 2018
ELW

The National Pulse – Students’ Privacy Under Serious Threat in Era of School Shootings

This article discusses two federal School Safety Commission meetings dealing with school safety as well as efforts in Florida since the February shooting in Parkland, Florida and how these efforts can and will damage data privacy:

Only one of the three witnesses at the July 11th hearing thought that inappropriate data sharing would hinder students from seeking mental health help. No one discussed the many other dangers of having behavioral and mental health data, especially subjective and often inaccurate screening data collected by minimally trained school personnel reside in longitudinal databases for life. These will be further discussed in a moment.

Another disturbing and related set of developments are the multiple ways that data privacy is being violated in the newly enacted Florida school safety law. These include requiring students to admit any mental health diagnoses, accurate or not, on their beginning-of-year school forms and the new law’s requirement to develop a “centralized integrated data repository and data analytics resource.”

The diagnosis disclosure mandate is a major medical privacy violation, potentially opening students to unwarranted and unwelcome scrutiny by school personnel and law enforcement. Additionally, psychiatric researchers have found that the vast majority (93 percent, according to one study) of the mentally ill will not become violent and that there is no good way to predict which patients will become violent.

The centralized data repository and analytics resource is a euphemism for Big Brother-style monitoring of social media, along with behavioral and mental health data, to allegedly stop threats before they happen. In addition to the grave privacy doubts raised by experts, there is no evidence that this approach even works.

The Miami-Dade school district, neighbor to the Broward district where the Parkland shooting happened, received a $4.6 million grant in 2014 from the U.S. Department of Justice to implement this scheme on a district level. There is now no trace of it on the Miami School Police website. The program ran through the end of 2017 and is being studied by education research company WestEd. Likely possibilities are that the study is not completed yet, the program was a complete failure, or they ran out of money and this new law will be a new funding source. It was extensively described before being taken down

May 18, 2018

The National Pulse – 6 Key Takeaways from Congress’ Hearing on Protecting Student Data

 

In this article, Dr. Effrem discusses and highlights aspects of the May 17 congressional hearing regarding student data protection.

1.) More leaders are realizing the need to reduce the amount of student data collected.

By far, the best witness from a parental rights and pro-privacy perspective was David Couch, Chief Information Officer for the Kentucky Department of Education. A former military cyber security expert, his most cogent remarks had to do with decreasing the amount of data collected:

2.) School districts are making a valiant effort to protect data, but it’s a difficult task.

Dr. Gary Lilly of the Bristol, Tenn., school district highlighted various efforts to protect student data. These include background checks on employees and limiting access to data depending on employee role. Both Lilly and Couch discussed the need for more training for teachers and administrative personnel to avoid inadvertently releasing personally identifiable information via spreadsheets or phishing attacks.

3.) The corporate and foundation Big Data interests were well represented.

Amelia Vance, director of education privacy at the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) was one of the witnesses. FPF is a creation of many of the biggest, worst actors on the privacy front, including the Gates Foundation, Google, and Facebook. She spoke about how necessary it is for taxpayers to spend more money training school districts and corporations to properly protect privacy.

You can view the full article at The National Pulse here.

Apr 21, 2018
ELW

Education Liberty Watch Co-leads Over 100 Groups Requesting FERPA Rewrite

 

This week Education Liberty Watch, American Principles Project (APP), and Eagle Forum, along with leaders from more than 100 organizations, both nationally and in 31 states, called on Congress to rewrite the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In a letter to the House Education and Workforce Committee, these organizations strongly urged Congress to recognize that it is not the role or right of government to probe a child’s most personal and sensitive attributes, as well as to protect the property interest that citizens have in their personal data.

“General education and labor databases should not be collecting and storing sensitive, subjective social, emotional, psychological and behavioral data,” said Dr. Karen Effrem, a pediatrician, President of Education Liberty Watch, an education writer at APP’s news publication,  The National Pulse, and Director of Education for Eagle Forum. “Psychological data related to behavioral, mental health, or special education concerns should be gathered after informed consent and treated with the same care and confidentiality as medical data, with appropriate sharing with law enforcement as needed under current statutes. If this had been done in the Parkland situation, that horrific tragedy could have been avoided.”

“Personal data collection without consent is an affront to freedom,” said Emmett McGroarty, senior fellow at American Principles Project and co-author of the new book, Deconstructing the Administrative State: The Fight for Liberty. “The federal government has no right or authority to vacuum up mountains of personal data on its citizens without their consent, with only the vague intent to “help” them or others make decisions. This is especially true for children.”

The letter submitted five recommendations for the FERPA rewrite:

Do whatever is possible to decrease the amount of data collected on students, especially social-emotional learning (SEL) data. Collection of such data should be eliminated or at the very least a) not collected without informed opt-in parental consent and b) be treated as medical data.

Treat whatever mental health, social emotional, or behavioral data collected for special-education evaluations or any other related program, such as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) or Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), as medical data that cannot be housed in longitudinal databases.

Use aggregate rather than individual data to the greatest extent possible.
Obtain parental consent if data collected for one purpose is to be repurposed or shared with another federal agency.

Eliminate the current language in FERPA allowing predictive testing.

It is incredibly important to fix FERPA and protect student data and psychological privacy as we have seen on multiple occasions in the recent past:

The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal is affecting students and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is  testing and planning to manipulate the same personality traits in students involved in the Facebook dust-up.

 

Just this week, there was another major scandal with Pearson committing psychological experiments on college students without consent.

 

The National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development is pushing for social emotional learning  (SEL) to be involved in school safety issues, which will not help.

 

Mental screening programs with all of their subjectivity and inaccuracy are starting to pop up all over the country, such as those discussed in Texas.

 

Efforts to increase data sharing with corporations, researchers and among federal agencies without consent in Congress through the  Foundations for Evidence-based Policy Making Act and the College Transparency Act are also being pushed by the data grabbers.

The letter also received excellent coverage by Dr. Susan Berry at Breitbart.

Here is the  link to the full letter. Please use it to contact your members of Congress and congressional candidates. so that we may protect the privacy and minds of our children and our freedoms as Americans.

Please also help us continue this David vs. Goliath fight by making your most generous contribution HERE. Thank you!

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