Privacy in Education

When debating the right to privacy on the federal government level the debate is over whether the information gathered through data mining is being used securely and is effective in preventing crimes or catching wanted suspects. At school there are two debates, data mining by the district to protect students and data mining by third party applications kids use in school. Data minning for safety of the school is one thing, but storing personal information, almost always without the user knowing, is the large problem the public is blind about today.

When reviewing applications on PrivacyGrade.org the term “used for advertising” is used to frequently. Many applications, without the user knowing, track data on the person to be sold to advertisers. For developers this can be a source of income, allowing their product to remain free for all users. When creating a product the company must always be focused on profits, because without profits the company will go bankrupt and sink the product with it. However, companies, big and small, across the world are focusing too much on profit and not enough on the delivery of the product to consumers.

The majority of parents across America would rather pay a small annual fee to ensure their child’s information is kept secure than allow companies to store, acess and sell information from the child without the parent’s permission or knowledge. The big challenge will be educating both child and parent about the effects of data minning, when it occurs and what the companies store. Some critics believe there is no big deal for companies to sell information to target advertising. However, whenever data is stored and transfered there is always the risk of hackers milaciously copying the email. If hackers gain access to the abundance of personal information the effects could be both emotional and phsyical. As a parent, how would you feel if a hacker could track your child’s location because they downloaded a game to their phone.

In my opinion selling users information is morally and legally wrong. No matter what age, selling users data is not acceptable. Not only is there risk of hackers but also that the company entrustsed with the information, wether given by the user or not, could misuse the data. There is also a legal argument against selling user data. Storing information without the consent of the user is illegal according to the 4th Ammendemnt and various U.S. Supreme Court cases. The Supreme Court ruled that only information given voluntarly can be stored. Companied argue by accepting the terms and conditions the user is waiving his or her rights and voluntarly surrendering all information collected by the application.

The difference between user inputed information and data collected from the application itself (such as location, changing phone logs,  accessing the storage drive, etc.) becomes extremely important in the battle against data minning in free products. For data provided by the user, education the public can solve the issue. However, when the user doesn’t know information is being collected, stored and sold then the company itself must re-evaluate its goals and mission statement.

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