U.S. school district monitors kids’ social media

District’s decision to monitor students raises privacy concerns

social-media-school-monitorA Southern California school district is trying to stop cyberbullying and a host of other teenage ills by monitoring the public posts students make on social media outlets in a program that has stirred debate about what privacy rights teenage students have when they fire up their smart phones.

Glendale Unified School District hired Geo Listening last year to track and monitor posts by its 14,000 or so middle and high school students. The district approached the Hermosa Beach-based company in hopes of curtailing online bullying, drug use and other problems after two area teenagers committed suicide last year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The company expects to monitor about 3,000 schools worldwide by the end of the year, said its founder, Chris Frydrych.…Read More

Teens largely self-reliant when it comes to online privacy

Girls are more likely to ask for help with online privacy.

In the age of social media, online privacy concerns are a consistent issue. A new survey reveals where teenagers, who often don’t realize the impact a digital footprint can have on college and career aspirations, turn for online privacy advice.

Most teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 said they rely on their own judgment to manage their own online privacy when using social media, but the majority of teens surveyed (70 percent) said they have asked friends (42 percent), parents (41 percent), or a sibling or cousin (37 percent) for help.

(Next page: What groups are most likely to ask for online privacy advice?)…Read More

Feds investigating makers of cell-phone apps for kids

More than 20 percent of the apps examined included links to social media services, meaning children could post comments, photos, or videos that could harm their reputations or offend other people.

The government is investigating whether software companies that make cell phone apps have violated the privacy rights of children by quietly collecting personal information from mobile devices and sharing it with advertisers and data brokers, the Federal Trade Commission said Dec. 10.

Such apps can capture a child’s physical location, phone numbers of their friends, and more.

The FTC described the marketplace for mobile applications—dominated by online stores operated by Apple and Google—as a digital danger zone with inadequate oversight over online privacy. In a report by the FTC’s own experts, it said the industry has grown rapidly but has failed to ensure that the privacy of young consumers is adequately protected.…Read More

How a lone grad student scooped the government—and what it means for your online privacy

The FTC is ill-equipped to find out, on its own, what companies like Google and Facebook are doing behind the scenes, a ProPublica investigation reveals.

(Editor’s note: As the FTC tries to protect consumers’ online privacy—by publishing a report targeting the data-collection practices of mobile apps for kids, for instance, and launching a voluntary Do Not Track program for tech companies—an investigative report from the nonprofit journalism service ProPublica reveals how hamstrung the agency is in these efforts. Here’s ProPublica’s report, which was co-published with Wired.)

Jonathan Mayer had a hunch.

A gifted computer scientist, Mayer suspected that online advertisers might be getting around browser settings that are designed to block tracking devices known as cookies. If his instinct was right, advertisers were following people as they moved from one website to another even though their browsers were configured to prevent this sort of digital shadowing. Working long hours at his office, Mayer ran a series of clever tests in which he purchased ads that acted as sniffers for the sort of unauthorized cookies he was looking for. He hit the jackpot, unearthing one of the biggest privacy scandals of the past year: Google was secretly planting cookies on a vast number of iPhone browsers. Mayer thinks millions of iPhones were targeted by Google.…Read More

FTC seeks comment on important online privacy changes

COPPA has not been updated since 2005.

Possible changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) are on the horizon as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed updating the law to reflect how technology has changed web browsing and communication, and the agency is seeking comments on those proposed changes.

Under COPPA’s online privacy rules, operators of websites or online services aimed at children under the age of 13, or others who have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information from children under 13, must obtain parental permission before collecting, using, or disclosing such information from children.

The online privacy law went under review but remained unchanged in 2005. But in light of rapidly evolving technology and changes in the way children use and access the internet, the FTC has initiated another review to update several definitions and components of the law.…Read More

The 10 biggest ed-tech stories of 2010

eSchool News reviews the 10 biggest ed-tech stories of 2010.

STEM education gets a boost amid concerns about U.S. competitiveness … States embrace cloud computing with large-scale school software projects… Assessments get a 21st-century makeover with the help of technology: These are among the many key educational technology developments in the past year.

In this special retrospective, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant educational technology stories of 2010. To learn more about each story, click on the headlines below.

What do you think? Do you agree with this list? Did we leave anything out? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the page.…Read More

The top 10 ed-tech stories of 2010: No. 4

Google said it accidentally snooped on residential Wi-Fi networks as it collected information for location-based applications.

Giving web users more control of their personal information online became a key priority for members of Congress in the past year, as well as for federal regulators and the technology industry, which sought to head off regulation by suggesting guidelines of its own.

The momentum for stronger federal regulations on how data can be used and shared began to grow after Facebook faced criticism late last year for creating complex changes to its privacy polices that made some data more publicly available. Apple and AT&T, meanwhile, were criticized in 2010 for a data breach that revealed the network identities of iPad users, while Google said it accidentally snooped on residential Wi-Fi networks as it collected information for location-based applications.

Amid growing concern about how much information students are revealing about themselves in their personal profiles on social networking web sites and other online services, the national child advocacy group Common Sense Media launched a national campaign called “Do Not Track Kids.” The project asks adults, parents, and teens to help make a stand for online privacy by demanding that companies provide an “opt-in” feature for sharing the information of all children under the age of 18.…Read More

Commerce Department tackles online privacy

The Commerce Department proposes creating a new office to oversee online privacy.

Aiming to set ground rules for companies that collect personal data online and use that information for marketing purposes, the U.S. Commerce Department is calling for the creation of an online privacy “bill of rights” for internet users.

The proposal, outlined in a Commerce Department report issued Dec. 16, is intended to address growing unease about the vast amounts of personal data that companies are scooping up on the internet, from web browsing habits to smart phone locations to Facebook preferences. The information often is mined to help companies better target their advertising—a practice that has children’s advocacy groups in particular calling for more online privacy safeguards.

More recent news about online privacy:…Read More