Big data is big business, but in response to a lawsuit—and intensifying public outcry—Google has stopped scanning emails of students who use its Apps for Education. According to Education News:
In its traditional Gmail service, Google scans emails for content and designs online advertisements accordingly. There are no advertisements in the version of Gmail used in schools, but the scanning was being done nonetheless. …
Google only announced it was scanning the emails as part of a lawsuit filed against the company in March…The lawsuit, currently being heard in California, is the result of several plaintiffs, including students, equating Google’s scanning of their Gmail messages to wiretapping and thus, a breach of privacy.
Google isn’t the only tech giant in hot water for compromising students’ privacy. Recently, data repository InBloom, which received $100 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shut down after losing numerous clients, including New York State school districts.
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) the privacy of students and their parents is supposed to be protected. In the wake of revelations about data collections by third-party companies, calls are intensifying to strengthen students’ and families’ privacy in school.