Privacy has been a concern for many months now given the situation with Facebook and Cambridge. Everything we do online is tracked and traced back to our accounts through web and mobile based applications. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and all websites and mobile applications collect information regarding your IP address, geographical location, search history, text messages, phone calls, the quizzes on social media, pictures, videos, audio and other information you’ve used while connected to the internet. This could include smart connected cars, thermostats, TVs, banking app (keep in mind the images you used to mobile deposit that’s connected to your phone which is connected to your Google Drive), and baby monitors (Internet of things, IoT). Because all these devices are connected to the internet, it has created jobs for analyst and the advancement of technology such as Artificial Intelligence; however, with anything digital, there are always criminals waiting to take advantage of all this information. Also, the other caveat, like most people, we assume free is a good thing. Except when it involves technology because free, isn’t free. The data associated with the free account is collected, sold and purchased by other organizations trying to fight for American Greenbacks at the expense of Americans privacy. It should be noted that the UK's technology privacy law called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is something essential to prevent organizations from collecting information without approval. Unfortunately, it doesn’t protect Americans, leaving the internet as the Wild West.
I’ve written about the concerns regarding educational technology and student privacy, especially since educational technology can be compromised just like Target’s data information center (Read it here - Since writing the article I've upgraded my Chrome extensions to include Adblock Plus and Disconnect). Also, the FBI has issued a warning stating “widespread collection of student data could have privacy and safety implications if compromised or exploited.” They also provide an example of a cybercriminal accessing multiple school districts’ servers to see student and teacher information regarding health records, demographics, and contact information (Read it here). Therefore, it is vital for us to educate our students and parents and provide recommendations on how to better protect their privacy.
To give you better insight as to what Google tracks regarding you and your accounts, you can visit myactivty.google.com. Log in with a Google accounts and click “Activity Controls” in the left column. Below are the controls to whether Google is tracking your data:
1. Web and App Activity – For most G Suite users, this feature will be paused based on the organization, this feature saves all of your activity through your browser, maps, and other Google services.
2. Location History – self-explanatory, but this feature collects each geo location you’ve visited.
3. Device Information – this feature saves your contacts, calendars, apps, and other data.
4. Voice & Audio – as you record your voice, Google collects it to better its software.
5. YouTube Search History – Another data collection method to coincide with Google’s ad service.
6. YouTube Watch History – collects the data for videos you have watched.
Pause these controls at your discretion.
Microsoft users can view their privacy by going to https://account.microsoft.com/privacy/
The next insight is considering the application permissions available on mobiles devices. Most downloaded apps are granted permission to have access to many other applications on your mobile device. For instance, Facebook app permissions include calendar, camera, contacts, microphone, phone, SMS, storage, and location. So if you are using Google for your Android device and frequently check in via geolocation, then you are providing your location to Facebook and Google. Facebook too, if permitted, would have access to all of the above applications on a mobile device if you allow them to do so. It would be recommended to look at each application on your mobile device to determine what apps have permission to view other apps.
To check app permissions on an android device: https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/6270602?hl=en
To check app permissions on an IOS device: https://www.howtogeek.com/211623/how-to-manage-app-permissions-on-your-iphone-or-ipad/
To check app permissions on a Microsoft device: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/10557/windows-10-app-permissions
Steven Lahullier wrote an exceptional article on Tech & Learning that showcases the top ten K-12 educational technology trends. Mobiles devices landed at number 2, while IoT fell at number 7. Both are prime examples of how educational technology accounts can be linked with personal accounts, while all the data associated with both accounts are utilized to generate revenue for businesses and provide information for cybercriminals (2017). However, using the above recommendation can help prevent such occurrences.
For more information on student privacy, visit the following websites:
Although these recommendations are directed towards protecting student data, they certainly can be applied to protecting personal data.
Lahullier, S. (2017). Top 10 -12 educational technology trends. Tech & Learning. 39(4).