What’s stored in your school Google Drive account? You might be surprised.

What’s stored in your school Google Drive account? You might be surprised.

Excellent article and one worth sharing from Cheri Kiesecker of Missouri Education Watchdog.

As you may or may not be aware, schools across the country are transitioning away from text books, notebooks, etc. to an online environment in which everything is stored, EVERYTHING.  The data is fed from the student’s Google Chrome notebook via a series of folders in Google Suite software to the school/district’s server.  Where that information goes from there and what is done with such data is even scarier.

Disclosure: My grandchildren have been using this Google Suite for two years and while their parents are out to lunch on this, I have spent as much time as I could flushing through the system.  Even worse, I have emphasized to their parents and my grandchildren that they should avoid doing anything on these notebooks or under their school profiles non-related to schoolwork but as you will learn from the following article, it does not make a difference.  Google, Big Data is compiling far more than they should…and without our permission.  Talk about creepy.

Missouri Education Watchdog by Cheri Kiesecker

WATCH THIS FOX 5 NEWS CLIP from Springfield, MO. They show one teacher log into her school issued Google Drive account where her personal information, including 139 passwords and audio of voice to text messages and Siri searches were stored, allegedly unencrypted.

If you or your child have a Google account through school, you are going to want to read this.

While many have questioned Google’s invasion of the classroom and how Google Apps for Education, (now called G-Suite), collects and uses student or teacher information, few have really gotten much in the way of answers.  What is reportedly happening with Springfield Missouri Public School’s use of Google Drive offers a rare glimpse into Google’s potential to collect data.  School-issued student Google accounts connect to Google Drive which can allow for the ability to Auto-Sync devices to Auto-Save passwords, browsing history and other digital data points from numerous devices used by a single user. For students in SPS this could include digital data from non-school related accounts.  This July 17, 2018 Fox 5 KRBK  news story explains how one family discovered this practice and reported it to the school district.

“The Elys claim that the SPS Google Drive, given to all SPS employees and students, automatically begins to store information from any device the drive is accessed on. This includes browser history, but also personal information such as files and passwords. They add that even if you log out of the drive, it stays running and recording in the background.

After bringing their concerns forward this past May, they say that despite the evidence presented, no serious action has been taken on behalf of the district.

“They have a lot of evidence and have had it since December, and we have not heard one word from any of them, said Dianne Ely.

With more searching, the Elys have now found even more sensitive information that’s been stored to their daughter’s Google Drive, including 139 passwords to both her and her husband’s different accounts and also voice recordings of both her and her children.

“My voice to text was being stored as well as any search my kids did, and I could say ‘sure my daughter was searching on Google,’ but my phone uses Safari. When I used my texting app on my iPhone, it recorded my voice, as well as typing out the words and saving it on my Google Drive,” said Brette Hay, the Ely’s daughter and a teacher at Pershing Middle School.

The Elys hope with this new evidence, not only will parents, employees and students take action to check what private information of their own could be stored on the drive, but that the school district will also take the appropriate steps to make their Google Drive safe.” [Emphasis added]

Parents want to know: Why is Auto-Syncing of devices and Auto-Saving of passwords allowed on any school-issued Google account?

Google changed its Google Drive syncing in September 2017. This new policy raises several questions:

  • How does this Google change affect privacy and security and access to school-issued Google Drive accounts? Does it allow cross device tracking?
  • Are students, parents, school employees, (who are often required to use the school-issued Google Drive),  informed that their devices could be automatically synced, and remain synced even when the log out?  Are  users informed of what information, including personal passwords, could be stored on their school-issued Google Drive?
  • Since district administrators can set permissions, do districts have the ability to disable the Google Auto-Sync and Auto-Save function?

Each state has consumer protection laws and state privacy laws that may prohibit the collection or reporting of individual’s biometric information such as facial or voice recognition. There are also several federal privacy laws, highlighted below, that apply specifically to student information[…]

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