According to a new report published by Human Rights Watch, children around the world և in Canada who used online education technologies during the epidemic, secretly collected their personal information և and sent it to advertising companies.
According to the message, These online education products had the ability to monitor children, collect data on “who they are, where they are, what they do in the classroom, who their family and friends are, what device they can allow their families to use.” »:
“Hour of Invisible Scouts”
“Sometimes when a child went to their online learning site, ‘they were surrounded by a horde of invisible spies,'” said He Jung Han, a report author for Human Rights Watch (HRW), a child rights researcher. .
“The equivalent would be a child sitting in a physical classroom with a surveillance camera mounted to shoot every time a child scratches their nose,” he said.
HRW said it has studied online learning platforms approved by 49 governments, including Canada, for the education of children during the epidemic from March to August 2021.
Nearly 90 percent of the 164 online learning products surveyed were found to “somehow endanger or violate children’s rights և children’s privacy,” Han said.
The CBC Kids education site was singled out in the report as a case study, named as one of eight canvas fingerprint sites to track users’ Internet activity. The report found that a total of 20 advertising and marketing companies received child information from CBC Kids.
HRW notes that the site was commissioned by the Quebec Ministry of Education for preschool and elementary school children.
However, the public broadcaster denied the report’s revelations.
“While we welcome Human Rights Watch’s work to protect children, with respect, they have called us wrong,” said CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson.
“It simply says that we have not collected, we have not collected, we will not share the children’s data with any third-party advertising traders. The more you say, the more irresponsible it is, the more outrageous it is. ”
According to the report, many educational technology companies do not disclose child surveillance through their data, and online learning platforms have been set up with tracking technologies that accompany children outside of their virtual classrooms, as well as other applications and websites on the Internet.
“Extremely sensitive information”
Han said that some learning apps, if they have accurate information about a child’s whereabouts, can find out where children live or spend most of their time, whether in their living room or bedroom.
“So this is very sensitive information that can be abused,” he said.
Some of the tracking and control practices were “so insidious, so stubborn,” Han said, adding that “there was really no way to protect your child from these traces if you did not throw your child’s device in the trash.”
He said most of the data is sent to advertising technology companies, a kind of “broker” who then sells it to advertisers who want to target children.
According to the HRW report, these companies can analyze data to predict a child’s personal characteristics and interests, to predict what the child may do next, and how it may affect him or her.
Matthew Johnson, director of education at MediaSmarts, a digital media literacy center in Ottawa, said he went to the CBC Kids website to find “an amazing amount of data collection” that takes place there.
But he said the biggest concern is student data collection in education management systems in general.
“Now that students are back at school, it really allows us to take a closer look at how learning management systems, educational websites and apps, collect more widely, use student data,” he said.
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