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Op-ed Placement

    Your child’s private info is being compiled into a massive database

    Originally Published in Rare on 5/16/14.

    For the last twelve months, we’ve watched conservative Republicans in Congress rail against unconstitutional NSA spying and the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS. Many question why government needs access to all of our information in the first place.

    Yet, largely unnoticed and with bi-partisan approval from Congress, a large and powerful infrastructure is actively collecting the data of millions of American kids every single day.

    According to Politico, “(Education) tech companies of all sizes, from basement startups to global conglomerates, have jumped into the game. The most adept are scooping up as many as 10 million unique data points on each child, each day.”

    “That’s more data, by several orders of magnitude, than Netflix or Facebook or even Google collect on their users,” Politico adds.

    In the name of racing to the top and leaving no child behind, the federal government has opened the door to this largest violation of privacy in our nation’s history—all under the watchful eye of President Obama. In 2011, President Obama relaxed federal privacy laws (FERPA) to incorporate private institutional access into this data collection program.

    By incentivizing participation in longitudinal databases through federal grants, the Department of Education has now created a system that tracks everything a child does—homework completion, behavior characteristics, health records, test scores, classroom comments, teacher observations of a their nutrition and hygiene, and more.

    This information becomes part of the student’s file, along with millions of other students, to be utilized in the future for unknown purposes.

    These databases aren’t simply for educational use by local school districts and state agencies—they are designed specifically to communicate with federal databases on a daily basis. The federal government, state agencies, and local schools can determine who has the right to access the information, including private for-profit companies, without parental knowledge or permission.

    Perhaps the most concerning aspect is that some of these databases are now shared projects with Health and Human Services—and one can only assume that this giant collection of private information could be used to feed into the Obamacare exchanges in the near future.

    So while Congress isn’t okay with the government spying on it—right, Dianne Feinstein?—they are completely fine with the massive collection of data on our children, without permission and without the parents, much less the kids themselves, having a voice in the process.

    One day, these students will graduate high school and find that their entire childhood has been documented, observed, and manipulated by faceless agents at government agencies and their crony counterparts.

    1 comments
    Maxine Allison's picture
    Maxine Allison
    05/18/2014

    Can parents op out.

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