How Are Schools Using Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook Explaining Surveillance?

2 min read

At the risk of stating the obvious, I've been following the news of widespread data collection by the NSA with some interest.

After watching things continue to unfold today - including President Obama's underwhelming defense of the program - these are some random thoughts and questions I have:

  • I'd like banks to get comparable surveillance as civilians.
  • I'd like to see the discussion broadened to include corporate responsibility for just acquiescing to these data requests.
  • Schools that went all in with iPads - how are you explaining to parents that your 21st Century Learning enrolled their children in 21st Century Surveillance?
  • Schools that went all-in with Google Apps or Microsoft EDU - how are you explaining that the benefits of cost savings appear to be offset by passive monitoring of the work within the school?
  • Schools that put a lot of time into building your Facebook presence - how will you explain that, by joining the school community on Facebook, you are also throwing your data into NSA servers?
  • For those of you who spent time analyzing and teaching others the "privacy" settings of Facebook, does this feel like time well spent, considering that - to at least the government and Facebook - there is no such thing as a privacy setting that works as adertised?
  • It sounds like, with Prism, the government outsourced TIA.
  • Given this level of cooperation between government and tech companies, how about we put that spirit of collaboration to work and solve the real problem of veterans waiting years for their benefits? If ever there was a problem that could benefit from good data management, the VA benefit system is it.

And yes, it is unclear how much - if any - student data is getting dropped into the net of data that continues to be given by American companies to the American government. To assume none is an act of willful naiveté that strains credibility.

The one thing I will say for Prism - according to a slide shown in the original piece, the program only costs 20 Million a year to run. 20 million a year, to maintain and update a data store to spy on 300,000,000 people? It is, ironically, an example of efficient government spending. To put that in relative terms, that's only 3 million more than the cost of a single drone.

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