Monday, June 3, 2013

AFT statement on inBloom and new video critique out of the UK

Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT
On Friday, in an official statement, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers,  expressed her concerns about inBloom Inc., and how inBloom needs to address the growing public distrust concerning its credibility and security protection:
 "Any potential inBloom has to improve and personalize learning is being overshadowed by a growing lack of public trust in its early communications and operations, and genuine concerns about the security, privacy, sharing and exploitation of data. The AFT raised many of these issues originally, and we, along with parents and teachers, continue to have many concerns about the privacy and security of student and teacher data. We have sent a letter to the funders of inBloom seeking clarification."
"These privacy and security concerns go well beyond inBloom. With a growing marketplace emerging for data collection, storage, analysis and monetization—both for good and for ill—we must be more vigilant than ever about the privacy and security rights of students, teachers and the American people. The rights and responsibilities of parents, students, teachers and school officials in protecting sensitive data, and in determining how others can use that data, must be transparent and well-regulated, and city, state and federal officials have key roles to play."
Today,  InfoSecurity magazine covers the inBloom controversy, cites our bill in the NY legislature to block this data-mining scheme, and describes how the concern over student privacy has spread to the UK:  Amazon Cloud Servers Host Data on Millions of SchoolChildren .

And now RNIF News, based in the UK has posted a striking video with an in depth look at inBloom, with material taken from our fact sheets and website; see below.  It’s a good examination of the issue but there are two major errors:

It is not true that 11 million students currently have their data uploaded into inBloom.  As far as we know, New York and Illinois are the only states currently sharing data.  Illinois is sharing data only for two districts, Bloomington and Normal, although the state plans to expand into other districts including Chicago starting in January 2014.  (see the list here.) Jefferson County school district in Colorado still plans to go ahead next year sharing student data, while Massachusetts (for Everett schools) and North Carolina (for Guilford co. schools) say they are reconsidering their plans. (See the Reuters update here.)

And our NY State bill would not hold the state responsible for breaches, as the video says, but would require inBloom or any company that receives and stores student data to be financially and legally responsible for breaches by indemnifying the state.

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