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$100 Million Student Database Worries Parents

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the all-the-erasers-in-one-basket dept.

Databases 250

asjk writes "The controversial database includes millions of children and documents their names, addresses, disabilities other statistics and demographics. Federal law allows for the files to be shared with private companies. From the article: 'In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion. Local education officials retain legal control over their students' information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services."

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Don't flatter yourself (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067375)

There is no vast government conspiracy to expose how retarded your kid is. Besides, let's face it, everyone who has met him already knows.

Re:Don't flatter yourself (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067499)

The two parties need to know who and where the retarded are. They need to keep tabs on their voting bases.

Re:Don't flatter yourself (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067847)

Why do Republicans keep winning the south?

Re:Don't flatter yourself (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067983)

The same reason Democrats keep winning the Northeast. The base is retarded.

By openly expressing your inability to count to two, you can be sure you are in the database.

Re:Don't flatter yourself (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068341)

We must be since we keep giving more tax dollars to red states than we get, then they complain about government handouts.

Strongly Disagree (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067423)

Is this just CT babble, or a real thing? Seems a bit far.

Re:Strongly Disagree (5, Insightful)

swb (14022) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067485)

Whatever the situation is, it sure seems like a huge moral hazard for local school administrators. They have an ethical obligation to protect children's data, but they have a self-interest in successful careers, which can be judged by how much money they bring into the district.

My guess is that money and status trumps children's privacy, even among the people you'd presume "think of the children."

Re:Strongly Disagree (0, Flamebait)

grantspassalan (2531078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067735)

For now at least, in the US, parents can still shield their children, keeping them out of the public indoctrination academies by sending their children to private schools or homeschooling them. I suspect though that if large numbers of people start doing this, self serving politicians lobbied by school administrators will make it illegal to homeschool children, like they have done in Germany and Sweden. Educating children at home is an economic sacrifice. It requires one of the parents to forgo income from a traditional job. Staying faithful to the marriage commitment is also a necessity.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

oh2 (520684) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067945)

Its not illegal to homeschool in Sweden. You just need a better reason than "I dont wanna" to do it.

Re:Strongly Disagree (4, Insightful)

grantspassalan (2531078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068179)

Any time a person needs permission from the government for any activity, including homeschooling, and such permission is denied for whatever reason, it becomes effectively illegal to do that particular activity, including homeschooling. In Sweden and in other countries, permission is required from a government official. If this permission is denied, there is no appeal in many places. You can look at the article here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling_international_status_and_statistics [wikipedia.org]

Re:Strongly Disagree (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068599)

I disagree, you entire notion is just loony talk.

Would you say driving is illegal? You need permission to do that and sometimes it is denied.

Homeschooling is often done because people want to keep their children uneducated. That should be prevented, it is simply child abuse.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

swb (14022) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068157)

Rare is the private school that doesn't somehow, somewhere get public money, which comes with all those lovely strings attached, including mandatory reporting.

Further, while the school district has at least the hope of public policy exposing a data sell out, a private school has far less oversight and usually a lot greater financial pressure.

Homeschooling is a great idea in principal, it's a tough idea to actually implement in practice and there's also no guarantee you won't want or need services from your public district which could cause you to get sucked into the database.

Re:Strongly Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068159)

1. Staying faithful to the marriage commitment is not a necessity. There many kids of single parents who do well. Like Barack Obama. Or Alexander Hamilton, who practically had no parent. Nor is a marriage commitment a sufficient condition. I'm sure you know lots of loosers with loving parents in a great marriage.

2. Never met a normal home-schooled kid, but I'm sure there must be one out there. In my experience home-school parents are generally terrified of their kids hearing a perspective aside from what ever crazy {$religious | political} views the family has.

3. I'd wager that public school is less indoctrinating then 99.5% of homeschooling.

-AC

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068483)

2. Never met a normal home-schooled kid, but I'm sure there must be one out there. In my experience home-school parents are generally terrified of their kids hearing a perspective aside from what ever crazy {$religious | political} views the family has.

And how many have you met? My brother's kids were home schooled. It had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with disappointment with the public school system. These kids are totally normal. They're ahead of their peers in math. They are better read. They play musical instruments. They do Tawkwondo. One completed NaNoWriMo two years ago at the age of 14. I read it, not publishable, but still fairly impressive for a 14 year old.

3. I'd wager that public school is less indoctrinating then 99.5% of homeschooling.

That's because most people do it for extreme religious reasons. Not everyone though. You can't claim homeschooling somehow screws up kids when it's in fact the parents.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068683)

When parents are the ones doing the homeschooling you can.

Even you admit that most of these cases are religious nutters. I am not sure why they don't just test for some knowledge and terminate homeschooling for that family if the kids fail.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

Edzilla2000 (1261030) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068261)

Yeah, because obviously most parents can teach all the subjects in school as well as specialized school teachers...

Hint: how many teachers do you know that have taught more than 2 subjects?

Re:Strongly Disagree (2)

halltk1983 (855209) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068375)

How many teachers do you know that have taught even a single subject well? Many of my math teachers in public school held history, english or other liberal arts degrees. I never once had a science teacher with a degree in that field. Your false assumptions or teacher's superiority is baseless. Considering that most teachers teach straight from the book, frequently just reading it aloud, parental teaching, at a one on one level could easily be far more productive than the current 30:1 rates, even if the primary tool is the same book, considering that a parent would have more time available to answer questions and ensure comprehension.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

Edzilla2000 (1261030) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068607)

So, because most teachers don't have a degree in the subject they are teaching (do you have statistics on that highly precise number?), you think a parent, who most likely hasn't seen a classroom in the last 10 years (at the very least) and hasn't read anything on the subject taught in 20 could do better?

I have had my share of bad teachers, but there were definitely a lot more good teachers than bad ones, and pretty much none that simply "read the textbooks" to me...

I was pretty good in school, I have a history of very grades all through my education, most people would tell you I would make a very good teacher, but there's no way I could possibly teach all the subject in a child's program.

How many homeschooled kids have actually become scientists, in the last 20 years, for instance?

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068829)

In my high school there were only a few teachers that actually knew their subject matter and I could probably count them on a single hand. The rest basically were useless with a good number actually causing more harm than good with their incompetency. All of this was in the best school district in a state that at the time was one of the best states for education in the nation. The worst was the 9th grade science teacher who couldn't form a rational though and had some truly bizarre experiments that when properly analyzed didn't show the effect that she was trying to demonstrate. It was an earth sciences class and the worst was the baking soda volcano which is fine for 2nd graders but for high schoolers is a giant waste of time and only reinforces bad information. The good teachers were the auto/metal shop teacher, the wood shop teacher, the AP Comp Sci teacher, the AP euro/humanities teacher, and the calculus teacher.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068411)

Except the data shows that home schooled kids taught by poor parents with little education are in the top 20% of public schooled kids' standardized scores.

Not much of a shocker, but having parents who care about your education is really the only indicator of how well you'll do in school, thus the tautological argument that home schooled kids generally do as well as the top public schooled kids.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068707)

Unless you ask them about evolution or the age of the universe.

Face it homeschooling falls into two camps people who deeply want their kids to get the best education and the religious nutters who want to keep their kids ignorant. One is something no one care about the other is just child abuse.

Re:Strongly Disagree (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068275)

For now at least, in the US, parents can still shield their children, keeping them out of the public indoctrination academies by sending their children to private schools or homeschooling them

ahh yes, the private indoctrination of homeschooling. Kids will turn out way better then. Homeschoolers are the real whack jobs.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068647)

If these people educate the kids, which is generally the opposite of what home schooling is about. Most of these people want to indoctrinate their children into some crazy religion. Why should that kind of child abuse be legal? Why should a child be denied the ability to even operate in society later?

Re:money and status trumps children's privacy (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068035)

This sounds like a card game.

"Money and status trump children's privacy, but Children trump adult privacy in legal filesharing". Or something.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068547)

Moral hazard? You act as though they give on iota of a fuck about the children's data. If there was a nice piece of candy in it for them they would hand it over.

Re:Strongly Disagree (2, Insightful)

will_die (586523) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067623)

The summary is more scare mongering.
The database is designed to be run by an non-profit and will give the school administrators a free service, may be pay in the future, where the administrators can enter the information of the their students. The original cost of this was done by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundatation.
The database can then produce reports for the school and be used for tracking the status of the student.
The thing about the federal law allowing it is fear mongering. Federal law does not prevent it provided the school officials allow it; if the school officials did not allow the use of the system then it would be illegal.
Companies are allowed limited access to the data and only at a high level if they are providing services and teaching material. So a company could have a product that is aimed at students doing poor in math but high in science and they would be able to identify that a school has such students and tell the school about their product.

Road to Hell Paving Material (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067827)

I'd suggest we look back on the track record of such databases.

I won't go and track down the links (There's a link somewhere to the famous HBR "Database of Ruin" article, and that has a number of good links).

However, when you have potential for profit and money, you have almost certain abuses.

When you have people (humans), administering these types of databases, you have certain (100%) abuses. There are a number of documented cases of cops abusing DMV and arrest report DBs for purposes of harassment, stalking and revenge.

There are "grey" private detectives that are called "skip tracers." If you want to find out more, check out this book [amazon.com] , called "How to Disappear."

This database WILL be misused. It may come back to haunt folks in thirty years.

I was able to rack up a pretty significant juvenile record, way back in the "paper era." I'm real glad that was never tracked, although I'll bet it would bubble to the surface if I ever wanted to work for the NSA.

Re:Road to Hell Paving Material (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068365)

I work at a private for-profit company in the USA that has similar information for 20mil+ students and years worth of data. We work with this kind of stuff all the time. Good security practices and regular 3rd-party voluntary security auditing. We don't have to do any auditing by law or any other rules, but we pay for it because we want to be secure. We actively refuse information that does not pertain to helping students, even though we have access to it. Address? We don't need that, so we don't store it. SSN, we highly discourage. etc etc

Re:Road to Hell Paving Material (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068449)

That's the EC philosophy: Don't collect data that you don't need, and don't hang onto it for any longer than you need.

However, American companies are working to weaken that.

Kids are an incredibly lucrative market. Many vast fortunes have been made, based on selling to kids.

Re:Strongly Disagree (2)

Kogun (170504) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067915)

You missed a key point regarding the word "abuse". It all sounds legit until you ponder the security issues and how easy it could be to gain access to the database--even legitimately. e.g., I'm writing an app to tutor math students. In fact, I just spent 10 minutes creating an introduction to Algebra, so I'm legit, now please provide access to the database.

Real security has been a joke in my kids' school system. It is hardly fear-mongering to extrapolate what that means for the database described in the article.

Re:Strongly Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067959)

Yeah, because the Gates foundation has never had strings attached to any of their 'donations', right?

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

Zemran (3101) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067991)

Next step is to tattoo barcodes on every child's forehead as they are born...

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068143)

That's absolutely absurd!

They will be tattooed on the inner arm of course. At the same time they get their first dose of required immunizations.

Re:Strongly Disagree (2)

CimmerianX (2478270) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068431)

Wrong. Arms can become amputated. The Forehead would be the logical choice.

Re:Strongly Disagree (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068099)

Well, the dollar sign in front of the "100" kind of confused me. It still does.
The title reads: "Hundred Million dollar Student Database Worries Parents". Makes little sense.

Re:Strongly Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068305)

It makes plenty of sense, certainly more sense than 100m students being in this database.

so....there really is a (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067433)

permanent record. I thought it was a bluff!

Time to put that in your permanent record. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067673)

Let me see, shows antisocial tendencies by thinking there is anything wrong with recording every bit of life and using it to judge.

xkcd already has the solution (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067455)

I, for one, will be naming my future son Robert'); DROP TABLE Students;-- .

Re:xkcd already has the solution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067839)

Oblig XKCD link [xkcd.com]

Re:xkcd already has the solution (3, Funny)

sacrilicious (316896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068151)

Little Bobby Tables, we'll call him.

Local officials will sell everybody out (1, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067469)

Local school administrators are worthless pieces of shiat, that are looking to scam as much money as possible for themselves and their cronies.

I expect that nearly EVERY district is already in talks with various marketing firms about how much this data is worth.

Re:Local officials will sell everybody out (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067823)

Federal law allows for the files to be shared with private companies

Federal law - read as Congress person was bri...lobbied into making it legal for big corps to mine children's data.

The people you should be pissed at are in DC. Punish them by voting them out of office.

Re:Local officials will sell everybody out (2)

jasnw (1913892) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067949)

OK, this is like saying "everyone who posts on /. are worthless pieces of shiat" just because of the few boneheads like yourself who make wild sweeping assertions based on too little data. This database is clearly a serious problem that needs to be handled much more carefully than it probably is, but I know and have worked with a lot of these "local school administrators" you think so little of and most of them are underpaid, overworked, and care deeply about the children in their care. Often they care more than some of the parents involved. As someone else points out, the laws in this case come from the Bozoids in DC. That's where the real problem lies.

Re:Local officials will sell everybody out (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068115)

Working in IT support in education, I think they're like this because schooling is horribly under-funded, and they have to be ruthless in order to get the money we need.

That's nothing . . . (5, Insightful)

jvarsoke (80870) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067477)

Apparently none of these parents have heard of Facebook.

Re:That's nothing . . . (5, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067647)

Apparently none of these parents have heard of Facebook.

Except that users have some measure of control over what is on their Facebook page and participation is with their consent. Neither appear to be the case with this database.

Re:That's nothing . . . (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067865)

Except that users have some measure of control over what is on their Facebook page and participation is with their consent.

Not true, and you should know why.

Re:That's nothing . . . (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067689)

Apparently none of these parents have heard of Facebook.

Most people don't publish their real DOB or their SSN and learning disabilities on their FB page.

There's a big difference between those pieces of information and the typical mundane things I've seen on folks' FB page - like pictures of their dog in a hat.

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067703)

really?

so i'm wishing happy birthday to people on the wrong day?

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

tapspace (2368622) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067743)

Possibly. Are you wishing 'happy birthday' to people you never talk to? I used to get those errant happy birthdays from about 5-10 idiots once a year on my myspace and 5-10 more on my facebook on some other random date. (Now, I just don't use those sites.)

Re:That's nothing . . . (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067757)

In many cases, they omit or falsify the year which is often the most valuable portion of the birthdate.

Personally, I just leave mine off altogether. Might be why I've only had one person remember my birthday today, which is fine by me.

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068421)

In many cases, they omit or falsify the year which is often the most valuable portion of the birthdate.

Which can be gleaned quite closely by looking at their HS graduation year. Or if they've not provided that, look at their friends. Find a big cluster in one particular year, bingo, that's probably it.

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

CimmerianX (2478270) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068465)

Happy Birthday.

Re:That's nothing . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068633)

Happy birthday SJHilman!

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068735)

Most people don't publish their real DOB or their SSN and learning disabilities on their FB page.

Do you even use Facebook? Pretty much everyone under forty or so uses their real DOB. So far as disabilities go, people practically brag about them routinely - when they aren't blaming every failure in their lives on them. (OK, these are self-diagnosed disabilities...)
 
You're right about the SSN though.

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

tapspace (2368622) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067719)

There's no law against providing Facebook with false information...

Re:That's nothing . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068245)

Actually that isn't clear. People have been criminally prosecuted for violating terms of service. The EFF is looking to get this clarified so that violating a TOS is limited to civil actions instead of abuse by prosecutors.

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067751)

Yes, but Facebook parents have (an illusion of at least) control over. This database, well, you couldn't take your child off even if you tried.

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

RevDisk (740008) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067777)

Facebook is optional. This would not be.

Re:That's nothing . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067849)

Sure the parents have heard of Facebook by now. And the grandparents, too. That's why some teens are using other things now instead. Teens do not want their parents and grandparents to know what they are up to: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57572154-93/why-teens-are-tiring-of-facebook/ [cnet.com]

No matter what it costs to build... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067489)

... don't build a database of ruin [hbr.org] .

So yes, those parents are right to be worried.

Re:No matter what it costs to build... (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067667)

Agreed, putting PHI (which is what disabilities should be classified as) into a database open to corporate fishing is just asking for problems. It's not like this data is going to ever go away, so it's likely these children will have their disability brought up during an interview 20 years from now (or not, they'll likely just be dropped into the round file as not worth interviewing). I can't believe that the US doesn't have some type of data privacy law beyond HIPAA, I wonder what type of incident it will take before people will wake up and demand that this kind of idiocy is shut down?

Re:No matter what it costs to build... (1)

HiThere (15173) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068051)

It would need to be something that affected large numbers of people in most states violently. Even that might not be enough. Some legislators would favor big companies (or even just companies) even if a majority of their voters had written in objecting. (I've got at least one Senator that I feel that describes.)

Re: disabilities in a database (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068191)

Also that gets into Gattaca grade problems because data "wants to be abused!" (To abuse a phrase!) So what's stopping insurance companies from playing games with it as well as employers?

Dead people rotten away do not produce CO2 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067493)

... and TAX all the rest of them. The ones giving idiotic speeches and encouraging unnecessary debates should be taxed at a rate that make them want to be dead and rotten away

i wonder if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067563)

i wonder if they are researching how likely some of these children with low test scores will be to accept a carbon tax for riding bikes when they come of voting age.

what the fuck is up with the news today? faith in humanity lost wtf

Great idea, what could go wrong? (1)

mikeiver1 (1630021) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067595)

This is a fantastic way for the company to make money for the schools... Oh, wait, scratch that. I meant to say for the administrators and the company to make money for them selves at the risk of future generations. We all know how well these benign corporations have done at protecting the private, in this case very private and potentially damaging, information of people. The things these kids are going to have to deal with, identity theft being the prime one, when they grown older is going to be sad to see. The scum bags behind this sort of thing should be strung up for their greed and lack of forethought of the ramifications for their "business model" on this most vulnerable segment of our population.

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067625)

Tell me again, guys, how your country isn't losing it's mind.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067641)

Seems like a win all around, then!

Not new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067677)

http://www.masonichip.org/

Uhm, yea. (5, Interesting)

RevDisk (740008) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067679)

Unless they have an insanely awesome security team and very rigorous employee screening, this will not end well.

The smarter way to handle it would be to replace personal information with UIDs. School districts alone can map UIDs to actual students. It'd be relatively trivial to implement, on either side. Sure, if someone crouched the numbers hard enough, they might be able to use analysis to collate the data to individuals. But that'd be enough to keep random stalkers, pedos, abusive parent with a restraining order against them, etc at bay.

If I was the non-profit running the DB, I'd be strongly pushing for something like that to absolve me of the liability and risk. Less persistent threats if the data is only useful to the student, school and statistics folks. The data, especially anonymized, would be VERY useful for curriculum research and development.

Re:Uhm, yea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067793)

That sort of system can be abused as well using some data analytic. The database is not the only data input... Think using some random credit card db, a property tax sheet, to match up to someone else in the db.

US needs privacy laws (5, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067727)

What kind of country allows this kind of information to be tracked "en masse", much less sells it to private companies? It reminds me of the credit-rating agencies:P private companies that somehow are magically authorized to suck up all of your financial information and sell it. At least the US finally added the ability for you to "freeze" your credit data. That's the wrong way around - they ought to have to actively ask for permission, but it's better than nothing.

  Now your kids need to be able to "freeze" their school data. Worse, the US is continually trying to force its lack of privacy on the rest of the world, most recently with FATCA.

It's a crying shame that the US Constitution forgot to list privacy as a basic right to be guaranteed by the government, right next to life and liberty. Failing that, you guys really need to get some privacy laws on the books!

How anti-freedom of you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067905)

See that's un-American of you, because by taking away the freedom of corporations to buy and sell private information about you, you are interfering with their precious freedom.

How dare you.

 

Re:US needs privacy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068583)

"It's a crying shame that the US Constitution forgot to list privacy as a basic right to be guaranteed by the government, right next to life and liberty."

It doesn't need to. That's what the ninth amendment is there for:

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Re:US needs privacy laws (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068679)

One thing that's amazing to me about this... and continues to amaze me is the discrepancy between what private corporations are allowed to get away with and what researchers at nonprofit universities and organizations have to put up with to get something much smaller and more innocuous done.

For example, if this was a research project at a university, it would probably be dead in the water due to IRB ethical concerns about privacy, etc. In the very least, it would probably require opt-in from parents.

However, when private for-profit institutions are involved, somehow it's a free-for-all and no ethical principles are required. I see this over and over and over again, not just in educational settings but in other settings as well. I've been involved with corporations in research, and it's mind-blowing how much easier it is to get things done (note that I'm not saying that easier is always bad--sometimes it's bad that it's so difficult for nonprofit researchers to conduct research that has essentially no risk)

This is disturbing to me for all the same reasons that are being mentioned, but another layer of it to me--the icing on the cake--is that there's not even some sort of prioritization of who has access--it's like not only are privacy concerns thrown out the window, they're thrown out the window to the people who are most likely to abuse the privacy laws because of profit incentives.

Another win.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067799)

Another win for homeschooling!

Re:A win.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067875)

Finally, a win for homeschooling!

FTFY.

Re:A win.... (2)

Deep Esophagus (686515) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068069)

{shrug} depends on your definition of "win". For us, rampant drug use, chronic bullying, and overemphasis on sports at the expense of academics were all important reasons to homeschool our hatchlings. So from my point of view, this news is indeed *another* win.

Self-serving project (2)

Dunkirk (238653) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067871)

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states.

All it looks like to me is a $100M SQL Server project for Microsoft, secured by the former CEO for his friends back at the home office.

WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067913)

WHAT THE FUCK?

Scary (5, Insightful)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year and a half ago | (#43067927)

attitudes toward school - even homework completion

I'm confused on what this point has to do with the student. I never liked school growing up, I didn't like my teachers and I didn't like doing homework, yet I just graduated with my SECOND engineering degree. I'm pointing this out because what is going to happen from this database is private company's will see that Billy doesn't like going to school and assume incorrectly that Billy wont be a good employee when he grows up.

This database is effectively a big profiling system that is designed to trap kids who don't feel that achieving is the most important thing in the world. How a kid feels about school really doesn't place any bearing on how they do in life overall, a kid that hates school can become an engineer well kids that love school end up drug addicts ( The "school lovers" I knew ). This database will not help kids in the long run, it will be used as a tool to track, record and hinder kids into adult hood, all because this database will track what Billy thinks of school and his teachers.

Disastrous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43067961)

This is just a disaster for young people for the rest of their lives! They will be branded, slotted, discriminated against forever just because they are on this list! This MUST be stopped, and IMMEDIATELY! If there was ever a more egregious example of privacy violation, I cannot think of it! These pinheads - what are they THINKING?

Scary outcome (4, Insightful)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068033)

There's no longer such a thing as a childhood. Anything you do or say practically from birth will be recorded and used against you. Have a bad year in grade school and some one will bring it up in your thirties when you apply for a job. A childhood prank and suddenly you are seen as a risky hire. It's already happening with social media as others are pointing out but imagine your whole school record available to employers and credit agencies? Even your criminal record is sealed when you turn 18 for a reason. One childhood mistake shouldn't ruin a life but they seem to have found a way. Perfect people will succeed, the rich as well since money can hide many sins, but the rest of us need to start worrying.

Re:Scary outcome (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068577)

There are a lot of people moving out of the U.S. so their kids start in a different educational system.

Of course, there is the old school defense of "this isn't me, somebody using my identity!"

Therefore we need something like GMI [wikipedia.org] that will allow you to put food on the table or fulfill your parental responsibilities WITHOUT worrying what other people think or kissing asses.

Re:Scary outcome (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068775)

There's no longer such a thing as a childhood. Anything you do or say practically from birth will be recorded and used against you.

What planet did you grow up on? It's been like that for decades... if not forever. The only difference today is that it's recorded in a database rather than people's fallible memories.

Isn't it neat.... (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068045)

Isn't it neat when other people get to decide if they want to share YOUR personal data?

Re:Isn't it neat.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068249)

Why wouldn't the same people who choose how to spend your money also decide whether or not to sell your data

Tracking for education, fine. Commercial? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068225)

There is NO way that this information should be available to private companies. There is no justification. ZERO. This puts school boards and whoever else is collecting and accessing this data into an unacceptable conflict of interest. They're right this data is worth money. But what they should be saying is: "No, you can't have it at ANY price, because we protect the privacy of the students we are entrusted to teach."

The information would be very helpful to evaluate progress of students individually and overall, but tying it to them in easily identifiable ways is foolish. It's a disaster waiting to happen. Access to it should be very limited, and some information shouldn't be generally accessible to anyone. Federal laws should PROHIBIT sharing of this data with anyone but the school authorities.

To demonstrate how bad this is, I have another suggestion. Why don't we build a similar database containing all the same information about educators nationwide (employment details, medical history, what they teach, the whole thing), and then sell it to marketers so we can make more money for the schools to run their operations? What's that? There are issues of privacy? Who'd have thunk?

Any person getting a government education... (0)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068351)

...should have their school records available to the taxpayers who funded them. If teachers can't judge the progress of a student by their school records, how are taxpayers supposed to judge the efficiency of schools or teachers or students without those records?

As far as I'm concerned, as soon as someone gets on the government dole, either because they're employed by the government, or are being supported by the government using taxpayer money, *every* taxpayer has a right to inspect the data. The person paying the bills has a right to know what they're paying for.

Re:Any person getting a government education... (1)

OhPlz (168413) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068571)

Children don't have a choice of where they go to school. The parents send them. If your parents insisted you go to government funded school, would you want a database like that tracking your every move and broadcasting it to anyone and everyone? What if you had learning disabilities? Still no problem?

Hackers, get your keyboards ready (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068369)

Database will be stolen in 5...4...3...

mo3 down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068409)

How is this FERPA-compliant? (3, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068419)

On its face, the proposal to share student data with private companies seems to clearly violate FERPA [ed.gov] , the federal law covering privacy of educational data. According to the article linked, the schools are claiming that it's OK, because when FERPA says it's OK for student data to be accessed by "School officials with legitimate educational interest", that really also means third-party contractors working for the schools. Apparently, the Department of Education has signed off on this. WTF? How can this possibly fit the legislative intent? It says "school officials", not "school vendors" or "school contractors". And there's a reason for that: actual school officials are subject to some level of public control and accountability, while private contractors are not.

This plan should be challenged in court as a violation of federal law.

It strange what Americans will allow to be tracked (1)

qzzpjs (1224510) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068439)

So, apparently you're allowed to collect and share all this information about your children, but God forbid they collect a single detail about your guns! Or maybe you just need a private marketing company to do it since Congress made laws that prevents the government from doing it themselves.

That said, we tried gun registration in Canada and it failed miserably due to the cost.

And yet the CDC can't... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43068479)

Do research into gun violence and Doctors can't ask if you own a gun....wow....

This is Microsoft's fault - no joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068597)

"The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding"

Leave it to Microsoft. And they gave Google crap about privacy?

Prospective employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43068703)

I can see prospective employers faking their way into having access to this database.

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