Search


  • Categories


  • Archives

    « Home

    Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

    Colleges, Universities Increasingly Review Applicants’ Social Media Postings

    Thursday, December 11th, 2014

    I’ve written before about how postings on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social-media sites have been used against individuals. Such sites have been used to gather evidence in trials against jurors and defendants, in divorce cases, against employees (which can lead to lawsuits), politicians and high school students.

    We’ve seen it affect applicants to jobs in the United States and abroad. For a while, there was increasing focus on the practice by some employers of requiring job applicants to hand over their passwords or allow access to their private accounts on social-networking sites in order to gather personal data when the social-networking profiles are closed to the public. States including CaliforniaIllinois and Maryland passed laws to protect employees from such prying by employers; Maryland’s law includes exemptions for employers for some investigations into possible wrongdoing by employees.

    Recently, the New York Times reported that students are scrubbing their accounts in anticipation of colleges and universities reviewing the social-media postings of applicants. The social-media searches by colleges and universities have been occurring for several years. Six years ago, education services firm Kaplan surveyed 320 college and university admissions officers and found “one out of ten admissions officers has visited an applicant’s social networking Web site as part of the admissions decision-making process.”  Read more »

    Continuing Debate on Privacy and Use of Newborns’ Blood Samples

    Monday, December 1st, 2014

    There has been considerable debate about the ethical, privacy, and civil liberty issues surrounding the unauthorized or unknowing retention and use of babies’ blood samples for purposes other than disease-screening in the United States and abroad. Often, parents are not told of the possible lengthy data retention period, possible distribution to other agencies, and possible other purposes for which their children’s blood samples could be used. Now, WNCN in North Carolina looks at the situation, and what it finds shows there are also questions about de-identification or “anonymization” of newborns’ medical data.

    Asked what the government plans to do with the data, Scott Zimmerman, director of the N.C. State Public Health Lab, said, “So if an outside agency such as an academic institution approaches us and asks for dried blood spots, there are two approaches that can be taken. One, we can get parental consent to release that dried blood sample to an outside entity. We will not release any DBS that contains patient information without parental consent.”

    Zimmerman added, “The only other way DBS are released is if they are de-identified.”

    Researchers have shown that, often, data that has been de-identified can be re-identified (or “de-anonymized”), and sensitive data could be linked back to an individual. Therefore, there is a significant privacy concern for individuals’ whose information is shared, without their consent, in this manner.  Read more »

    New York Times: Privacy Concerns for ClassDojo and Other Tracking Apps for Schoolchildren

    Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

    The New York Times reports on privacy questions surrounding apps for tracking students’ behavior in classrooms, such as ClassDojo. The app has addressed one of the concerns listed in the story concerning retention and deletion of the data. The New York Times reports:

    ClassDojo is used by at least one teacher in roughly one out of three schools in the United States, according to its developer. The app is among the innovations to emerge from the estimated $7.9 billion education software market aimed at students from prekindergarten through high school. Although there are similar behavior-tracking programs, they are not as popular as ClassDojo.

    Many teachers say the app helps them automate the task of recording classroom conduct, as well as allowing them to communicate directly with parents.

    But some parents, teachers and privacy law scholars say ClassDojo, along with other unproven technologies that record sensitive information about students, is being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness, like where and how the data might eventually be used. [...] Read more »

    FTC Reaches Proposed Settlement With TRUSTe Over Privacy Seal Program

    Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

    The Federal Trade Commission announced that it has reached a proposed settlement with TRUSTe, a provider of privacy certifications for online businesses, over its privacy seal program. TRUSTe faced charges “that it deceived consumers about its recertification program for company’s privacy practices, as well as perpetuated its misrepresentation as a non-profit entity.” The FTC said:

    TRUSTe provides seals to businesses that meet specific requirements for consumer privacy programs that it administers.  TRUSTe seals assure consumers that businesses’ privacy practices are in compliance with specific privacy standards like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework. [...]

    The FTC’s complaint alleges that from 2006 until January 2013, TRUSTe failed to conduct annual recertifications of companies holding TRUSTe privacy seals in over 1,000 incidences, despite providing information on its website that companies holding TRUSTe Certified Privacy Seals receive recertification every year. [...] Read more »

    Campus Technology: Carnegie Mellon Gives Privacy Grade to Android Apps

    Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

    Campus Technology reports that researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have launched PrivacyGrade, a Web site that reviews mobile apps and how they gather data and affect user privacy:

    Google Maps gets an A. The free version of Angry Birds gets a C. And My ABCs by BabyBus gets a D. The letters assigned to each of these Android apps are grades, and while A is great, D means failure — in privacy, that is.

    Those grades and a million others were assigned through a scanning application that combines automated techniques with crowdsourcing to capture the behavior of an app and measure the gap that exists between how people expect the app to behave and how it actually behaves. [...] Read more »

    Associated Press: California enacts strict student privacy law

    Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

    The Associated Press reports that California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed SB1177, a bill concerning student privacy rights:

    SB1177 by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, prohibits companies from using students’ personal information for profit.

    It makes companies responsible for protecting any personal information that they gather from elementary and high school students through websites, online applications and other services.

    The bill requires providers to use the data only for school purposes and bans the sale of students’ personal information to advertisers and third parties.

    Brown also approved a related bill, AB1584, by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, that says student information collected by outside companies remains the property of school districts.