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Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4th: fighting to preserve the right to privacy

Happy July 4th everyone.  Today we all remember how important it is to preserve our right to privacy, our right to protect ourselves and our families against unreasonable search and seizure, and our ability to keep our children's most confidential and sensitive information secure and protected from being handed off to for-profit vendors and corporations.

These rights seem more imperiled than ever before  when our government, at the national and state levels, seem to feel they have the right to spy on ordinary citizens and to do whatever they like with our children's data.  In the debate over whether the state should provide this information to inBloom Inc., and via inBloom, to a plethora of for-profit vendors, Tom Dunn of the New York State Education Department told the Village Voice that "when parents register a child for school" they "give up" any right to determine what is done with his or her data.  Really?

A young computer scientist named Edward Snowden has shown us the extent to which the federal government is engaged in spying on citizens and the rest of the world, and for revealing this reality, he cannot find safe haven.

Not long ago, another young computer scientist named Bill Gates made a fortune, is now lionized around the world, and has amassed incredible power.  He is now intent on transforming our public education system into a marketplace of competing schools and outsourcing instruction to machines and an array of software products, which is called "personalized" learning but it is really depersonalized learning.

To this end, he is amassing all the data he can from the nation's vulnerable children, and offering it up to vendors,  because information is power and one can never have enough.  But our children are not commodities, and their privacy and security is invaluable. 

As usual, Diane Ravitch said it best:

July 4 is a day when we celebrate our independence, our freedom, and our liberties, guaranteed by our great Constitution and Bill of Rights.

It is also a good day to ponder the continuing growth of the national security state. This state demands the power to watch our every move. It says that it keeps us safe by having the ability to read our emails and monitor our phone calls. It sets up hidden cameras on the street to watch us.

Similarly, in schools, confidential data about our children and grandchildren are being amassed on a huge database that will be stored somewhere in the “cloud,” and managed by The database is being assembled, thanks to $100 million from Bill Gates and the Carnegie Corporation, by Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation. Don’t you feel safer already, knowing that every detail about your offspring is aggregated somewhere so that corporations can develop new products and sell stuff to the schools? Who might hack the data? Who might use it and misuse it? We don’t know. Will it happen? Of course....

Here’s a video from Fox Business:  Schools Putting Student Privacy at Risk?  


Patrick Walsh said...

Thank you Leonie for this excellent and vital post and for all you do for all of us.

Ralf said...

This is great!