Facebook-Backed School Software Stokes Parents’ Privacy Concerns

Privacy symbol with digital globe, 3d renderMany schools nationwide have signed up to use the software product Summit Basecamp, a joint effort from Facebook and Summit Public Schools that offers data-driven “personalized learning” for students. However, some parents and experts have expressed concern about how this tool could put children’s private data in the hands of schools and major tech companies.

The technology may indeed help teachers build custom lesson plans for their students (though the tool’s effectiveness remains unproven), but many parents and privacy advocates are concerned by the amount of data the software gathers. Some of the personal data that Summit Basecamp gathers includes names, email addresses, schoolwork, grades and even Internet activity.

“I’m not comfortable with having my kids’ personally identifiable information going to I don’t even know where, to be used for I’m not sure what,” one mother told The Washington Post. “There’s a lot of unclear nuances that I can’t possibly know and I just have to trust.”

Summit says it is only gathering limited information on students, though critics have poked holes in its privacy terms, calling them too broad. However, tools like this one have become increasingly popular among educators, so despite the push back from parents and advocates, it’s likely the technology will continue to grow.