InBloom and the need to protect student privacy
Overview for parents, teachers and students
Last year, in the last few days of the legislative session, two bills to protect student privacy were approved by the NY Assembly: A.7872, , and A.6059. These bills have since been introduced in the Senate as S.5930 which will protect personally identifiable information from release to certain third parties and S.5932. which will protect student privacy by prohibiting the release of personally identifiable information of students to third parties without parental consent. Please ask your State Senator to co-sponsor these bills.
At this juncture, the NY State Education Department is still ignoring parent protests, and is going ahead with its plan to share the most confidential, sensitive information belonging to the entire state’s public school students with inBloom Inc., which is storing this data on a vulnerable data cloud, and providing it to for-profit vendors without parental consent. Please ask your State Senator to co-sponsor Senate bills S.5930 and S.5932.
Created and funded by the Gates and Carnegie Foundations with $100 million, inBloom Inc. is collecting confidential and personally identifiable student and teacher data from school districts throughout the country. This information — including student names, addresses, grades, test scores, economic, race, special education status, disciplinary status and more — is to be stored on a data cloud run by Amazon.com, with an operating system by Wireless/Amplify, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. InBloom Inc. plans to share this highly sensitive information with software companies and other for-profit vendors.
The backers of inBloom pitch the project as an effort to help students by providing more personalized learning tools, yet there are no proven benefits to online learning and there are huge risks involved in commercializing this data and storing it on a vulnerable data cloud. In fact, inBloom itself states that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored in inBloom or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.”
InBloom Inc. originally announced that nine states had agreed to participate in their data sharing system. However, after protests from parents and privacy advocates, four of these states have announced they are pulling out or never planned to share the data in the first place: Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia and Delaware.
More recently, Georgia has disclosed that though they are not sharing “state” data, individual districts may be going ahead, though they haven’t disclosed which ones. Other states that had been planning to provide data from “pilot” districts, including Massachusetts (Everett schools) and North Carolina (Guilford Co. schools) have paused or stopped their involvement, completely. As of December 2013, only one state is committed to going forward: New York. Illinois (Chicago) and Colorado (Jefferson Co.) have recently decided to withdraw from their involvement with inBloom.
New York is currently the only inBloom participant sharing data statewide, involving the personal information of 3.6 million students, and has reportedly already uploaded this information on the inBloom cloud.
All this is happening without parental notification or consent.
- Need more answers? Take a look at our new Frequently Asked Questions page about inBloom here.
- Check out our national and New York State-specific fact sheets on inBloom. Our most recent fact sheet can be found here.
- If you’re looking for resources outside of New York State, go to our non-NY links page.
- For other relevant documents, check out our inBloom updates . And watch video from our explosive April 30th Town Hall meeting.
- Read our inBloom, Inc timeline and for a detailed history of this issue, including our involvement.
- Examine what kind of data elements inBloom, Inc will be storing: An excerpt with some of the most sensitive data can be downloaded here, as a pdf. And the longer version can be downloaded here: full data elements.
- Send an opt-out letter to the city and state.
- Read Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio’s letter to NYSED Superintendent John King and NYC Chancellor Dennis Walcott demanding New York to stop sharing students’ private records with corporations and to require parental consent.
- Sign up for email updates: