Guest Column: Educating parents on their children’s data | SierraSun.com

Guest Column: Educating parents on their children’s data

John Eppolito
Guest Column

This New York Times article titled: "Equifax's Maddening Unaccountability," sums up why Equifax probably won't be held accountable for what they've done to us consumers. The same thing applies to "free," third-party education software vendors used in Incline Village schools — vendors like Edmodo, Class Dojo, Nearpod, Seesaw, Google G Suite, and many more.

THIRD PARTY EDUCATION VENDORS

The Equifax data breach is about money. By design, the data collected, stored, analyzed, and shared by "free" third-party education vendors will likely affect the future of our children. The way these free, third-parties are paid is with student data. In Nevada there are few laws on what these free, third-party education vendors can do with the student data they collect or with the student profiles they create. Many of them, including Edmodo, tell us they will share our children's data with others.

According to Incline High School administrators, Washoe County School District (WCSD) teachers get better evaluations if they use free third-party "education" software.

According to Incline High School administrators, Washoe County School District (WCSD) teachers get better evaluations if they use free third-party “education” software.

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Google has been sued at least twice for creating profiles on children who use their free education software. Personally, I only want the teachers in Incline Village involved in my children's education.

Infinite Campus(IC) is a paid, third-party vendor used by every school district in the state of Nevada. Parents can only view some of the student data stored in IC. WCSD has told us student data held by IC is never deleted. Every school district in the state uses IC, nightly, to upload student data to the Nevada Department of Education (NDE). What WCSD hasn't told us is who else IC shares student data with.

EDMODO DATA BREACH AND THE IMPLICATIONS

Last school year one of the largest free third-party "education" software vendors used in WCSD schools, Edmodo, had what ZDNet called one of the largest data breaches so far in 2017: "Usernames, email address (which include student ID numbers), and hashed passwords were hacked … The data base was for sale on the dark web."

This is the same student ID that is used to track students from pre-kindergarten through the workforce [cradle to grave] by entities like: the state of Nevada, the Nevada Department of Education, and Infinite Campus.

WCSD chose to not inform parents of the Edmodo data breach and they continue to use the same, already hacked, email addresses, and student ID numbers.

Last school year, at least 441 students opted-out of using the district's email address, and many of us do not allow our children to use "free" education software.

It is unlikely that the district or Edmodo will be held accountable for this, or any, data breach. If this data breach does not adversely affect the children of the district, it is just a matter of time before one does.

Similar to what's mentioned in the New York Times Equifax article, because of the lobbying and political contributions of companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Infinite Campus, Edmodo, etc., the mining, storing, analyzing (student profiling), and sharing of student data will likely continue with little or no parent notification. Making matters worse, parents will not be notified when their children's data is breached.

Protect Nevada Children will host a meeting to educate parents on things they can do to protect their children's data and future. We have invited all the local WCSD educators.

The meeting is Thursday, Nov. 16, from 4-6 p.m. at the Incline Village Library, 845 Alder Ave.

John Eppolito is president of Protect Nevada Children