Is Your School Leaking Your Child’s Personal Information?
A perfect example of people moving forward without taking precautions or having any regard to what they are really getting into, schools are more and more counting on electronic communication and third-party apps to communicate with parents. So is your school leaking your child’s personal information?
I myself have witnessed this first hand. A simple mis-typing of an email address can give a complete stranger access to information about your child. Their picture? Check. Their name? Check. The school they attend? Check. Their parents names? Check. It seems trivial if you just glance at it, but taken as a whole, now some complete stranger (and anyone else with access to that stranger’s emails) now has a complete picture of what you hold most precious and can potentially harm them either physically, or lay in wait with this information and use it to hurt their online persona.
All this before the child has a chance to even have their own account online. Heck, I have received dozens of emails from schools around the country regarding other people’s kids. I have even tried to tell them to delete the email address on file because it’s wrong.
If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold
Not only are schools… OK, I’m saying schools, but I am going to use specific examples of this school for now with a more in-depth report in the future. Not only are schools using email as a more “efficient” and “green” means of communication and messing up addresses. But they are using third-party apps for all sorts of things. By the way, I’m not certain that putting the onus on parents for printing everything really makes you a “Green School”. But I digress.
After school sports? Their entire online registration is run through Blue Sombrero. Blue Sombrero is run by Dick’s Sporting Goods. So now I have to hope that Dick’s has good information security, but also worry about the fact that they are keeping tabs on my child’s sports interests and classes he has taken and using that to make money or target us for ads.
Emergency alerts, updates, etc? They’re now using remind.com. How Remind makes money, or plans to is still a bit fuzzy. But remember the saying “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold“. Again, that’s fine if you’re a consenting adult, but when it’s off of a child and the adult in charge is given very little choice in the matter, it’s a problem. I know I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of my child and my child’s information being for sale.
I won’t even get into Tae Kwon Do asking for a credit card number over the phone, or over email. And this, again is something they HAVE to have on file for recurring payments. No other option. Better get that burner credit card ready.
Ultimately it seems that we as a society are not learning from our mistakes and we continue to charge forward with new technology, blatantly disregarding the potential harm it could bring to yourself or your loved ones. And now in a rush to join the technological expressway, schools are joining the fray hoping to become more efficient and to save money. But they are doing it in a way that endangers personal information security and future of the most impressionable and vulnerable of our society – children.
Now I am not saying there can’t be some middle ground, but there needs to be come accountability along with better understanding and planning, not to mention being able to opt-out without having to give up Tae Kwon Do.