Schoolkids are at risk of having their online activity tracked and monitored for targeted advertising by internet firms through free cloud based education services.
A survey has found that the majority of parents do not know about data mining, a process in which emails and web browsing habits are tracked to aid in targeted advertising. Once parents are made aware of these facts more than 90% of parents said they would be concerned if their child’s online activity was being tracked, and believe that schools need to do more to protect them.
The survey which was commisioned by American IT industry group SafeGov, asked 1000 Australian parents about their knowledge of data mining, of which 80% said they would take immeadiate action against the data mining of students.
President of US IT and Cloud computing forum SafeGov, Jeff Gould said “Data mining is very intrusive. Schoolkids are going to click on things they shouldn’t click on. Yes, they are going to be exposed to that outside of school, but that’s no reason to allow it in schools.” Gould said that while parents are still positive about cloud based services they “should insist on contracts that expressly ban the exploitation of children’s email for any ad related purposes”.
It’s the educational institutions that sign the contract, not the parents, and Gould says there is a “conflict of interests” because although schools are aware of the privacy risks, they are still attracted to the free services on offer.