Browsing articles in "Data Collection and Data Privacy"
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!

Apr 7, 2018
ELW

The National Pulse: OECD Pushes Facebook-Style Personality Profiling of Students Worldwide

As we hear more about the data mining operations of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, we are also finding out that Facebook and other organizations are data mining and psychologically profiling our children. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Effrem’s article at the National Pulse discussing this newest threat to student data privacy:

Now we are also learning that even financial publications are warning about the cancerous spread of social emotional learning (SEL) assessment and profiling on a global scale. The eight-hundred-pound gorilla in this process is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the developer of the PISA international comparison test. The Middle East North Africa Financial Network (MENAFN) has chronicled OECD’s machinations in this realm in an article entitled, “Why education is embracing Facebook-style personality profiling for schoolchildren.”

The article describes how both Facebook/Cambridge Analytica and OECD have developed and are using personality surveys based on the “Big Five” personality traits — “openness,” “conscientiousness,” “extroversion,” “agreeableness,” and “neuroticism” or (OCEAN). The brand new, upcoming 2019 OECD international Study on Social Emotional Learning for middle and high school students is described as a “computer-based self-completion questionnaire” that will assess students on these traits. The common foundation of this new OECD test and the Cambridge Analytica personality test are the same.

The purpose of the OECD test is for workforce development, which uses inaccurate predictive testing of this subjective SEL to steer students toward career paths they may not want and close off others:

The assumption behind the test is that social and emotional skills are important predictors of educational progress and future workplace performance. Large-scale personality data is therefore presumed by the OECD to be predictive of a country’s potential social and economic progress.

Several of the dangers of this concept were discussed:

There are of course many dangers and problems with this approach that we have frequently addressed, such as here and here. These include:

Lack of agreement by researchers on what SEL really is and how to measure it;
SEL’s subjective nature;
The danger of this inaccurate data having eternal life in longitudinal databases endangering future schooling, careers, military service, and gun ownership;
That SEL data can and has been used for political purposes, endangering freedom of conscience; and
Sharing of data without consent between government agencies and between government and private entities.

Interestingly, the MENAFN article also lists some important problems, which is somewhat surprising given the usual focus of these types of publications on markets and profits:

It risks reframing public education in terms of personality modification, driven by the political race for future economic advantage, rather than the pursuit of meaningful knowledge and understanding. It treats children as little indicators of future labour markets, and may distract teachers from other curriculum aims.
As education consultant Joe Nutt wrote in the Times Educational Supplement last year, ‘If you make data generation the goal of education then data is what you will get. Not quality teaching.’

I also have covered the effort by OECD to begin this personality molding, assessment, and data mining in the preschool years. Even more dangerous is the idea posited in their 2015 report about coordinating between government and family to develop the proper, government-required attitudes:

Policy makers, teachers, parents and researchers can help expand children’s growth potential by actively engaging in skill development within the domains that they are responsible for. However, given that “skills beget skills”, education policies and programmes need to ensure coherence across learning contexts (i.e. family, school and the community) and stages of school progression (i.e. across primary, lower secondary and upper secondary schooling). This is an important way to maximise the returns to skills investment over the life cycle.

We must protect our children’s privacy and our national sovereignty at the same time!

Read the whole article HERE.

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