Data Tracking Your Way Towards A Better Future

Andrea Peterson for the Washington Post:

More than half of K-12 laptops or tablets purchased by U.S. schools in the third quarter were Chromebooks, cheap laptops that run Google software. Beyond its famed Web search, the company freely offers word processing and other software to schools. In total, Google programs are used by more than 50 million students and teachers around the world, the company says.

But Google is also tracking what those students are doing on its services and using some of that information to sell targeted ads, according to a complaint filed with federal officials by a leading privacy advocacy group.

Google is tracking students as it sells more products to schools, privacy advocates warn | Washington Post

Emphasis mine, because in perusing the EFF's complaint (the aforementioned "privacy advocacy group"), there's merely the implication that Google could share student data with third-parties, with no explicit examples cited, likely because Google isn't sharing that data— a key distinction that Google spells out in their response highlighting how Google Apps for Education (GAFE) works

Personally-identifiable Chrome Sync data in GAFE accounts is only used to power features in Chrome for that person, for example allowing students to access their own browsing data and settings, securely, across devices. In addition, our systems compile data aggregated from millions of users of Chrome Sync and, after completely removing information about individual users, we use this data to holistically improve the services we provide. For example if data shows that millions of people are visiting a webpage that is broken, that site would be moved lower in the search results. This is not connected to any specific person nor is it used to analyze student behaviors. If they choose to, educators, students and administrators can disable Chrome Sync or choose what information to sync in settings whenever they choose. GAFE users’ Chrome Sync data is not used to target ads to individual students.

The facts about student data privacy in Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks

In summary, yes we're (and by we, I mean Google's algorithms) are probably tracking the hell out of you (and by you, I mean your child, of whom I hear very good things!), but in the least evil, most helpful way possible — oh, and by the way — all of this is opt-out (by school administrators) if you really want to be utterly inconvenienced by what would then be a neutered service. That is to say, I'm entirely unbothered by Google's role in this, while reserving the right to be more than a little queasy that some (most?) schools are doing little to inform themselves — and parents — about how and why the myriad of likely cloud-based services students are using in today's classrooms do what they do.