Data Mining and Privacy Laws
Should Vermont Public Schools remove Google Chromebooks from the classroom? This is one of the many questions that needs to be considered and addressed as we move forward as a state with regards to ensuring and enacting privacy protection for Vermont residents and especially our children.
In 2019, Vermont enacted the start of a data privacy law, this needs to be expanded and clarified, Vermonters and especially our children are not data commodities for markets.
It is a well-known fact that Google and Facebook and a high majority of websites, apps, social media platforms and even our smart cars are constantly gathering data. Data is the new oil they say, and this is exactly the case. Through the use of artificial intelligence, quantum computing and interoperable data, computers and AI technologies are able to take in enormous amounts of information and process and repackage and move and sell data infinitely and continuously. This is a massive market, and a high majority of companies are finding significant profit in the gathering, repackaging and sale of data gathered from the use of this technology. In addition, there are endless surveys and tests happening in workplaces and schools in particular that are also a source of data that are being sold and traded within industry and governments.
We also now have construction and operation of massive supercomputers around our country that use vast amounts of energy to store this data and information on people including search histories, purchases, and all communications. It is a known fact that Google and Facebook as well as several other large data mining engines are frustrated with doing business in Europe because there are more robust and strict privacy laws there. Ensuring that Vermont citizens privacy in their homes and on their devices and at schools is protected is a top priority. Using these technologies is a choice, however in our world today, it is close to a necessity as well and the terms and conditions that one agrees to absolutely should not breach Constitutional rights
Schools are becoming a massive avenue for many companies to access copious amounts of data on our children. Finding a balance between technology use and the privacy of our children in their learning environments is critical. How much time is spent on computers? what are the alternatives if a student or their family do not want a child to have google account and thus open the door to the data mining of their child? It is important that moving forward, children in schools are protected and are not constantly surveilled, traced and tracked through computers, videos and cameras at the schools. Privacy is a constitutional right and ensuring that an individual holds control over their engagement with these data mining tools and programs is critical. This information is being used for a wide variety of reasons such as marketing, social impact markets, and return on investments by stakeholders. Our children are not data commodities and deserve protection from predatory data mining 'services” that are often utilized at schools and also in healthcare.
I feel it is urgent that we look at countries in Europe and in other states to seek ideas and precedent to determine how to best protect people's privacy and ensure protections around their data and information shared via certain programs. This includes our children at schools, those in needs of aid and services related to health, poverty, and recovery-especially when services are provided at schools and home. We need to ensure that devices and apps are not used that will exploit a person's situation and be commodified into a data grab. Privacy is a fundamental human right.
Every human has a right to privacy, and it is urgent in my opinion that awareness around this reality is there, and that policy and practices are put in place to ensure privacy protection. I strongly believe that incorporating this protection into legislation moving forward will be vital to build a framework of guaranteed privacy for Vermonters by hungry corporate predatory markets.