Ethics: What about privacy?

Does your school use Google Education apps? More than half of the students in the U.S. currently do. But what is Google doing with the data it is collecting from schools?

In a New York Times article, author Natasha Singer talks about how Google is setting itself up for brand loyalty with students. But even more troubling is its lack of transparency over what it is doing with student data.

“Unless we know what is collected, why it is collected, how it is used and a review of it is possible, we can never understand with certainty how this information could be used to help or hurt a kid,” said Bill Fitzgerald of Common Sense Media, a children’s advocacy group, who vets the security and privacy of classroom apps.

Google declined to provide a breakdown of the exact details the company collects from student use of its services. Bram Bout, director of Google’s education unit, pointed to a Google privacy notice listing the categories of information that the company’s education services collect, like location data and “details of how a user used our service.”

Question to discuss with students:

What is privacy? Why is it important? What steps can you take to maintain online privacy?