Illinois still in student data mining program

spybloomYesterday the Tribune printed a Reuters story about the InBloom  (formerly Wireless Generation) program funded by Bill Gates that is currently collecting student confidential records it plans to share with private software companies. InBloom says it cannot guarantee the safety of this data.

The story reported that several states or districts which InBloom claimed were part of “Phase 1” of their project have either disavowed any involvement or pulled out.

The only remaining inBloom clients at this point are Illinois, Colorado and New York. Currently only Bloomington and Normal school districts are involved in our state, but Illinois plans to add Chicago and 34 other districts in 2014.

I’ve written about this before, and tip my hat to the tireless work of my PAA colleague Leonie Haimson to expose this enormous threat to family privacy. I’ll share more on this tomorrow for Public Schools Action Tuesday, but meanwhile, here’s the letter I just sent to the Tribune:


Thank you for publishing the excellent Stephanie Simon piece about states choosing not to share confidential student and teacher data with the Gates-funded corporation called inBloom Inc. Most parents are unaware of this threatened encroachment on family privacy which is already underway in the Bloomington and Normal school district and is slated to start in the Chicago Public Schools and 34 other districts in January 2014.

The confidential data being collected by InBloom includes children’s personally identifiable information such as name, address, grades, test scores, detailed disciplinary and health records, race, ethnicity, economic status, disabilities and other highly sensitive information. It is being collected into an electronic “data store” with an operating system built by Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of News Corporation, a company owned by Rupert Murdoch which has been found to have illegally violated privacy in Great Britain and in the US. The “data store” will be placed on a vulnerable data cloud managed by Amazon.com. InBloom Inc. has already stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored…or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.” InBloom Inc. intends to make all this highly confidential data available to commercial vendors to help them develop and market their “learning products.”

All of this is happening without parental knowledge or consent, and is encouraged by federal privacy rule changes made last year by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. As Simon's report points out, several states have reconsidered their earlier agreements to join this questionable program.

Illinois should do the same.

Julie Woestehoff

Executive Director

Parents United for Responsible Education

Chicago, IL

 

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.