Big Brother Bill Gates Funds k-12 Tracking of Students With InBloom Database — Invasion of Privacy — Opt Out — Videos
The Bottom Line :Education Database
Defining the Need — inBloom
How inBloom’s shared data services work for educators and learners
inBloom Tagger Demo
inBloom Dashboard Demo
inBloom launches with Gates/Carnegie funds to unify e-learning services
Summary: Despite the recent explosion in ed tech applications and services, adoption and use of data remains a significant challenge. InBloom’s new platform just may change that.
By Christopher Dawson for ZDNet Education
As recently as a couple years ago, the biggest problem schools faced with implementing technology tools for students and teachers was the lack of research-based, pedagogically sound, applications. There was plenty of software, some of it good, not much of it great, and very little of it really cranking out usable data for teachers and other stakeholders. The recent explosion of investment in ed tech has yielded some really valuable applications, though, and the challenges have shifted to adoption and ease of use of disparate software and services.
inBloom, which launched this week, is hoping to change that. I had the chance to talk with Iwan Streichenberger, CEO of inBloom, Inc., and couldn’t help but be impressed with both the current platform and the future vision of the non-profit. inBloom offers a set of technologies and services, most notably robust APIs, that allow single sign-on and aggregation of data from many web-based educational tools and provide a basis for companies to develop new solutions for schools, teachers, parents, and students that are interoperable without needing to conform to arbitrary standards or conventions. As the company put it in their press release,
The inBloom data integration and content search services enrich learning applications by connecting them to systems and information that currently live in a variety of different places and formats, while helping to reduce costs for states and districts. This comprehensive view into each student’s history can help those involved in education…act quickly to help each student succeed. It also helps educators locate standards-aligned instructional resources from multiple providers and match them with their students’ needs…
Additionally, the inBloom framework enables technology providers to develop and deploy products without having to build custom connections to each state and district data source. This means more developers will have the opportunity to create new and powerful applications to benefit students, with lower implementation costs and faster time-to-market.
For example, an SIS provider could build a custom dashboard with student data from any application connected to inBloom. 22 such providers have already signed on to connect their applications to inBloom and 9 states are involved in piloting the service. The real goal, though, goes back to the ed tech holy grail of “an IEP for everyone” (my words – inBloom calls it “[integration of] student data and learning applications to support sustainable, cost-effective personalized learning”). If teachers can’t easily access data generated by learning applications and stored in SIS/LMS platforms and then quickly find and provide appropriate resources for students based on these data, then we aren’t leveraging the tools in which we’re investing. Kids are just taking tests on the web and playing computer games at that point and, with 30+ kids in a class, there’s no real hope of differentiated instruction.
Although the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation have funded a wide range of educational initiatives, this one (which received initial philanthropic funding from the two organizations) strikes me as one of the most potentially transformative. Nobody benefits if the current unprecedented levels of investor interest in ed tech becomes a bubble that funded lots of applications from which teachers and students derive limited benefit. But if inBloom can harness these applications to develop a meaningful, well-rounded ecosystem, then the potential for ed tech to achieve much of what it has promised in the last 20 years (with only moderate success) increases significantly. It doesn’t hurt that companies with great ideas and great products will be able to tap into a ready market, either, eager to adopt strong applications from a unified ecosystem.
There will be more announcements and demonstrations from inBloom at SxSWEdu at the beginning of March where we’ll be able to see the system in action.
Bill Gates’ $100 million database to track students
Corporations gaining access to grades, addresses, hobbies, attitudes
By Michael F. Haverluck
Over the past 18 months, a massive $100 million public-school database spearheaded by the $36.4 billion-strong Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been in the making that freely shares student information with private companies.
The system has been in operation for several months and already contains millions of K-12 students’ personal identification ‒ ranging from name, address, Social Security number, attendance, test scores, homework completion, career goals, learning disabilities, and even hobbies and attitudes about school.
Claiming that the national database will enhance education, the main funder of the project, the Gates Foundation, entered the joint venture with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from a number of states. After Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify Education (a division of News Corp) spent more than a year developing the system’s infrastructure, the Gates Foundation delivered it to inBloom ‒ a nonprofit corporation recently established to run the database.
School officials and private companies doing business with districts might have plenty to be happy about with this information-sharing system, but ParentalRights.org President Michael P. Farris says parents have plenty to worry about when it comes to inBloom’s national database.
“The greatest immediate threat to children is the threat to their privacy,” Farris told WND in an exclusive interview. “The Supreme Court has recognized a sphere of privacy within the family, but this project would take personal information about each child, apart from any considerations of parental consent, and put it into a database being managed and monitored solely by the government agencies and private corporations that use it.”
And with globalists like Bill Gates (the world’s second richest man with a net worth of $61 billion) and big government joining hands in the project, could children’s information be abused for ulterior motives?
“I cannot speak to Mr. Gates’ personal motivations, [but] the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been connected with human rights organizations that promote the internationalist mindset, and this project clearly fits with that agenda,” Farris explained. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child committee has repeatedly browbeat nations to create a national database just like this that will allow the government to track children, purportedly to make sure their human rights are being protected ‒ different declared purpose, same kind of system, same invasion of privacy for government purposes.”
When contacted for comment about the benefits and potential dangers of the database, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did not respond.
Breach of privacy?
Holding the legal right to control student information, local education officials reportedly have the authority under federal law to share database files with private companies ‒ such as Gates’ Microsoft ‒ that sell educational products and services so that they can mine the info to create new tailored products.
But Farris believes the digital information distribution system violates the constitutional rights of parents to protect their children.
“We believe parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children,” asserts Farris, who was named one of the “Top 100 Faces in Education of the 20th Century” by Education Week. “Historically, the Supreme Court has supported that right. That means parents are the primary guardians of a child’s privacy.”
He notes the hypocrisy of many globalist billionaires (such as Gates, whose 11-, 14- and 17-year-old children enjoy the extra security of private schools and for their own protection, have had to wait until the age of 13 to get a cell phone).
“This is just one more example of the elite internationalist double standard,” contends Farris, who also is the founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). “They are perfectly content to share your child’s personal information, while keeping their own children in private schools or under private tutors.”
Farris, who is also the founding president and current chancellor of Patrick Henry College, sees corporate leaders as using those of lesser means to benefit their own interests.
“They protect their own privacy at any cost, but you need to surrender yours for the good of their ideal society,” Farris adds. “Ultimately, it doesn’t seem so ideal for the rest of us.”
Farris insists that schools giving in to the corporate interests of billionaires, such as Gates and Murdoch, is a major breach of parental rights.
“Now the government is sharing private student information with other organizations without parental consent,” Farris points out. “We believe that infringes a child’s right to privacy, and it infringes the parents’ right to be the first line of defense for that child.”
Many parents concur and feel uneasy with school administrators having full control over their children’s files, especially with states and school districts having full discretion over whether student records are entered into the database.
“Once this information gets out there, it’s going to be abused,” parent Jason France told Reuters in Louisiana, which, along with New York, is slated to input virtually all student records statewide. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Illinois, Massachusetts, Colorado, Georgia, Delaware, Kentucky and North Carolina have pledged to contribute student records from various school districts.
Because federal officials claim that the national database does not violate privacy laws, the Department of Education maintains that no parental consent is needed by schools to share student records with any “school official” with a “legitimate educational interest” ‒ which includes school-contracted private companies.
Gates’ real take on security
Being in the business of contributing to educational technologies for decades, 57-year-old Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has much vested interest in education, and in years past, he has had much to say about the privacy of electronic information.
“Trustworthy Computing is the highest priority for all the work we are doing,” Gates stated a decade ago in a famous company-wide memo at Microsoft. “We must lead the industry to a whole new level of Trustworthiness in computing.”
And by “trustworthy,” Gates was referring to not letting people’s information get into the wrong hands.
“Users should be in control of how their data is used,” explained Gates ‒ who believes that his customers’ information should not be freely distributed, but does not hold that view when it comes to parents and the records of their children.
“Policies for information use should be clear to the user. Users should be in control … it should be easy for users to specify appropriate use of their information …”
In fact, when it comes to protecting and courting customers, Gates has spared no cost.
“So now, when we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security,” states the memo from Gates, whose $150 million, 66,000-square-foot home on Lake Washington has a 2,500-square-foot gym, a 1,000 square-foot living room and a 60-foot swimming pool complete with an underwater music system. “Our products should emphasize security right out of the box, and we must constantly refine and improve that security as threats evolve.”
Bill Gates’ home on Lake Washington, near Seattle
Despite his endorsement of the school database, Gates ‒ who gave up first place in global net worth to Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu ($69 billion) after giving away $28 billion through his foundation ‒ is a strong backer of International Data Privacy Day, which has this to say about protecting people’s information:
“In this networked world, in which we are thoroughly digitized, with our identities, locations, actions, purchases, associations, movements, and histories stored as so many bits and bytes, we have to ask – who is collecting all of this data – what are they doing with it – with whom are they sharing it? Most of all, individuals are asking ‘How can I protect my information from being misused?’ These are reasonable questions to ask – we should all want to know the answers.”
Officials of the annual event proclaim endorsement of the very principles that Gates’ new public school database evidently tramples.
“Data Privacy Day promotes awareness about the many ways personal information is collected, stored, used, and shared, and education about privacy practices that will enable individuals to protect their personal information,” the events’ organizers declare.
Student security not a priority
“[inBloom] cannot guarantee the security of the information stored … or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted,” the company’s documentation states.
Unlike most software and Internet users, parents have little recourse when it comes to protecting their children’s information on the database. Voicing their concerns with state officials via written protests, parents of public schoolers from Louisiana and New York are up-in-arms. Even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) in Massachusetts, as well as attorneys in New York, are following suit.
But according to Farris, public education is just fanning the flames of parental fears that “Big Brother” is tightening its grip on the masses by treating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as a “living and breathing document” to undermine its original intent.
“We know the Department of Education quietly modified their understanding of FERPA law in the last two years to allow for a system like this,” Farris argues. “Homeschool Legal Defense Association, of which I am chairman, filed a letter with the Department opposing their intended changes, but like all such letters in this particular instance, our input was ignored.”
And has Bill Gates’ personal information been as freely accessible as he would public schoolers’ to be? Not exactly.
Just earlier this month, the now part-timer from Microsoft (since 2008) has been made the latest victim of celebrity data exposure, with his Social Security number, birthdate, credit card number and full credit report being posted online. No comment has been made whether Gates believes the dissemination of his SSN is a breach of privacy, but his heavy involvement in the school database indicates that sharing such information of public school students isn’t a breach.
And just how important is privacy to Gates?
In 1994, when he married Melinda in a private ceremony on the Hawaiian island of Lanai, he bought out every unoccupied room of all nearby hotels and booked every helicopter in the surrounding area to ensure privacy from photographers.
Reports also indicate that First Lady Michelle Obama was also a recent victim of having her SSN and credit report posted online. She and a couple dozen celebrities were impersonated by hackers who entered some of their basic personal information into a website ‒ the same type of information (of students) school officials are entering into their system by the millions.
President Barack Obama recently expressed his concern over electronic information being exploited by others, and when it comes to info being dispersed about his wife, he is dispatching U.S. authorities to investigate.
“We should not be surprised that if we’ve got hackers that want to dig in and have a lot of resources, that they can access this information,” Obama told ABC News. “Again, not sure how accurate but … you’ve got websites out there that tell people’s credit card info. That’s how sophisticated they are.”
And to make it easy for companies to tap in, inBloom has made its service free, but is likely to begin charging for its use by 2015.
Opening the Gates agenda?
Much concern has been expressed over the years regarding the driving force behind Gates and his organizations, which have demonstrated unflagging support of many leftist causes.
Just last week, the richest man in America lamented that Obama’s powers are too restricted.
“Some days, I wish we had a system like the U.K. where, you know, the party in power could do a lot and you know, you’d see how it went and then fine, you could un-elect them,” Gates proclaimed at a Politico event when asked about Obama’s performance as president, according to the Daily Caller.
In a speech just over a week ago at the Global Grand Challenges Summit put on by the Royal Academy of Engineering, Gates said capitalism “means male baldness research gets more funding than malaria,” , according to Wired Magazine.
Since the inception of the Gates Foundation in 1994, the same year Gates spent $30.8 million at an auction for a collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester writings, he has been a staunch supporter of population control through vaccines and other methods.
Last summer, Gates and his wife represented their foundation at a “family planning” summit in London hosted by the U.K. Department of International Development, which included Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Populations Fund, along with other prominent pro-abortion advocates.
And at the exclusive Technology, Entertainment and Design 2010 Conference in Long Beach, Calif., Gates presented this population-control formula: P (people) x S (services per persons) x E (average energy per service) x C (average CO2 emitted per unit of energy) = CO2 (total CO2 emitted by population per year).
In his speech titled “Innovating to Zero!” he talked about keeping the world population from peaking at an estimated 9.3 billion.
“First we got population,” Gates explained. “The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”
Even though Gates suggested at the invitation-only event that using vaccines is one means to reduce world population, his foundation focuses media attention on other goals, such as eradicating measles and polio.
But the foundation’s extreme measures taken to administer the shots to undeveloped nations are often underreported.
In 2011, few people knew about partners of the Gates foundation forcing 131 Malawian children against their religious convictions to receive measles vaccinations at gunpoint as part of achieving the goal of vaccinating every child on earth, as reported by Natural News.
Gates, an ex-Boy Scout, is also an advocate of homosexual behavior, stating at last week’s Politico event that the youth organization should “absolutely” lift its ban on “gay” members when asked his opinion.
Standing side-by-side with Planned Parenthood ‒ which has documented that promoting homosexuality is one of its tactics behind population control ‒ Gates’ Microsoft was a major contributors to last year’s successful election campaign that worked to legalize same-sex marriage in his native Washington state.
The future of Gates’ database?
The new school database is not moving forward without legal resistance.
“It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors,” contended Electronic Privacy Law Center Administrative Counsel Khaliah Barnes in a statement to the Daily News. “What happens if a company using the data is compromised? What happens if the company goes out of business? We don’t know the answers.”
The issue over the database is being brought to the forefront as a major civil rights issue.
“Turning massive amounts of personal data about public school students to a private corporation without any public input is profoundly disturbing and irresponsible,” New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna told the Daily News.
The NYCLU is castigating New York State officials for denying parents the choice to opt out of the controversial program and for failing to warn parents of its implementation.
To counter Gates’ school database project, ParentalRights.org urges Americans to sign a petition supporting the Parental Rights Amendment, which will codify the fundamental right of parents in the U.S. Constitution to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children.