•   
  •   
  •   

Opinion Invasive remote learning tech scans my retina, records voiceprints and gobbles up my data

12:08  04 march  2021
12:08  04 march  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

The unintended environmental benefit of Cuba's isolation

  The unintended environmental benefit of Cuba's isolation Cuba harbors a fraction of the invasive plant species ravaging other Caribbean islands. Experts think its isolationism has helped.Cuba is an outlier: Its trade and tourism dialed down more than half a century ago after Fidel Castro came into power, and has only been dialing back up in the last few decades. While many Cubans suffered under Castro’s regime, the economic isolation also protected the island from invasive species, according to a new study.

I knew something was off when I had to ask myself, “Why can’t I register for class without disclosing my passport details and medical history to an exam proctoring company?”

a woman smiling for the camera: Anjali Chakradhar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in February 2020. © Family handout Anjali Chakradhar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in February 2020.

Days into another semester of Zoom University, college students like me find ourselves trapped once again in an educational system that gravely threatens our right to privacy and data security.

We need answers.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Forced by the pandemic and our universities, students nationwide have unwittingly consented to sharing an unprecedented level of sensitive personal data with universities and third-party education technology (EdTech) companies. Virtual learning was a means to an end in a time of crisis. But now some educators believe it is here to stay, even when in-person instruction resumes. Administrators and legislators must confront the real tradeoff between engaging in this educational process and honoring fundamental privacy rights of students.

The House’s three big ideas to take on tech power

  The House’s three big ideas to take on tech power They had the CEO hearings, now they get to workLawmakers shined a light on some of tech’s shady business practices, and now they’re getting ready to finish the job. On Thursday, the House Judiciary’s subcommittee on antitrust returned for a far less flashy hearing with experts. It’s the beginning of a second and far more important phase of the committee’s work, pinning down new rules that would address those practices.

Widespread data collection

Consider remote proctoring software produced by companies like Proctorio and ProctorU, now utilized by many universities to monitor students taking exams. Proctoring software can collect data that includes, but is not limited to: Social Security numbers; driver’s license numbers or passport numbers; biometric information like fingerprints, faceprints, voiceprints, iris or retina scans; IP addresses and device identifiers; browsing history, search history and logs of student interaction with applications or advertisements; medical conditions; physical and/or mental disability; photographs, video and audio recordings; education and employment information.

None of this information is needed to assess whether students have cheated on a test. A Forbes contributor likened this to “spyware.” At the end of January, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced its discontinuation of Proctorio following student and faculty outcry.

WHO cautions against 'premature' return to normal; Ivory Coast gets first COVAX vaccine shipment in UN initiative. Latest COVID-19 updates

  WHO cautions against 'premature' return to normal; Ivory Coast gets first COVAX vaccine shipment in UN initiative. Latest COVID-19 updates Ivory Coast receives first COVAX vaccine shipment in UN initiative. Twitter aims to curb vaccine misinformation. Latest COVID-19 updates.The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization said it was “premature” to think that the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but the roll-out of vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalizations and death. Dr. Michael Ryan said at a press briefing Monday that the world’s singular focus right now should be to keep transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible.

Teacher: My students need support, not standardized tests. Biden, keep your promise to end testing.

The proctoring example illustrates a broader trend of excessive student data collection in education technology:

►Zoom, a video conferencing software, is used by thousands of universities and educational institutions and has come under fire from the Federal Trade Commission, among others, for questionable data collection and security.

►Canvas, a leading learning management system, captures students’ clickstream (a record of the webpages a user visits and the time spent on each page) within the Canvas application.

►The popular lecture streaming software Panopto stores minute-by-minute metrics on engagement of individual students.

Keep the good, throw out the bad

Regulatory oversight has not caught up with the rise of virtual learning technology. Without regulation, very little prevents the sale of student data to third parties, like recruiters and admissions officers.

Invasive Zebra Mussels Found in Pet Store Moss Balls Could Cause 'Serious Damage'

  Invasive Zebra Mussels Found in Pet Store Moss Balls Could Cause 'Serious Damage' An employee from a Seattle Petco found the non-native species, called zebra mussels, inside a moss plant product that's officially branded as the "Betta Buddy Marimo Ball."The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said it was alerted to the situation after an employee from Seattle retailer Petco found the species, zebra mussels, inside a moss plant product that's officially branded as the "Betta Buddy Marimo Ball.

And what of cybersecurity threats? The FBI asserts that “malicious use of (student) data could result in social engineering, bullying, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children.”

Proctoring services flag alleged cheating by tracking eye, lip and head movements using facial recognition software. This notoriously biased technology can lead to false cheating accusations with psychological repercussions for vulnerable educational groups.

Coronavirus: Some school districts are willing to open up public schools — for a price

The future consequences are perhaps even more dangerous. A culture of consistent, excessive data collection and monetization has meaningful philosophical implications. Experts fear the onset of “cradle-to-grave" profiles in which a student's academic performance is tracked over their educational career to guide employment and college admissions. As students strive toward a singular definition of success, we risk perpetuating an education system that already struggles with promoting creativity.

Fermenting skills, exodus debunked, nurse strike: News from around our 50 states

  Fermenting skills, exodus debunked, nurse strike: News from around our 50 states How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every stateStart the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Legislators could find grounds to direct funding toward optimizing student “success,” potentially at the expense of underserved populations. Imagine if, when President Richard Nixon sought to screen children for “potential criminality,” he had this capability to test, track and engineer.

To be clear, there are excellent reasons why EdTech has a place in the future. It removes many physical barriers to learning for persons with disabilities. There is anecdotal evidence that EdTech engenders stronger accountability. Zoom breaks down location barriers and creates a global classroom. Proctorio saves professors from patrolling exam rooms. And this all enables new pedagogical approaches like “flipped-classroom instruction,” with pre-recorded lectures and live problem solving.

There exists a world in which society can reap these benefits while avoiding the staggering cost being paid by students. It would require participation from all parties involved. EdTech companies must acknowledge the ethical implications of their data collection practices. Federal and state governments must pursue stricter oversight to restrict the capture and flow of student data. Students must fight to remain informed so that we can continue to exert pressure from below to advocate for ourselves against unfair practices.

Biden is loading up his administration with Big Tech’s most prominent critics

  Biden is loading up his administration with Big Tech’s most prominent critics Nearly two months into his presidency, it’s finally becoming clear how Joe Biden plans to approach the tech sector. And it’s looking far different from the approach under the Obama administration. © Provided by NBC News The selection of two major critics of the Big Tech companies, Lina Khan and Tim Wu, for key roles in the administration seems to signal that Biden is serious about taking a tough look at giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The latter two of those companies are already facing federal antitrust lawsuits filed under the previous administration.

And, somewhere in the middle, universities must demonstrate that these delicate, complex forces are being appropriately and deliberately evaluated when deciding the future uses of online learning infrastructure. Hasty concessions of privacy have no place in the future of education, and the discussion must start today.

Anjali Chakradhar is a Harvard undergrad and co-founder of the Transparency Project, an effort to raise student data privacy awareness.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Invasive remote learning tech scans my retina, records voiceprints and gobbles up my data

FAA's final drone rules start taking effect April 21st .
The FAA just set dates for when its tightened drone rules will take effect, and some measures will kick in sooner than others. The regulator has revealed that Remote ID and Operations Over People rules will start taking effect as of April 21st, 2021. From then on, you'll have to list the serial number of any Remote ID drone or add-on module in your registration. You can fly small (under 0.55lbs) drones over people if they have protected blades, but you can't conduct sustained flight over open-air assemblies unless you comply with Remote ID.

usr: 5
This is interesting!