Google, get your paws off my kids!

What I see is a naive education system being led astray by a hugely influential data harvesting company. Leaving aside my huge reservations about giving Google access to my kids, to harvest their data and keep it for their entire lives, I’ll simply talk about one tiny issue that I see as the first hurdle they fell at. The very first thing I looked into regarding Google in the Classroom set off alarm bells.

They partner with Kahoot, a Google Education Partner, Google Classroom. Even at a glance, Kahoot looks to me like a shady company. The Common Sense Privacy Report sort of backs up my gut feeling, 66% with an amber ‘Warning’ badge is way below the standard I expect in my child’s education.

As an example of what looked shady to me, if I search Google for ‘Kahoot Data Harvesting’ I get the following URL: –

(http://) ( (/kahoot-collecting-data.html)

I have broken up the above URL because I don’t want to add to its value by linking to it. That’s marketing spam! Worse still, it has been deliberately designed to shadow legitimate questions being asked about ‘Kahoot data harvesting’. Instead of talking about privacy issues, the article purports to be advising teachers on how best use Kahoot in classrooms. There is no doubt in my mind that this is driven by Kahoot. It’s shady and it’s deceptive.

The entire first page of search results, even on non-Google search engines, is either from the Kahoot website directly, or ‘shadowed’ content from them that’s masquerading as ‘articles’.

Straight off the bat, I do not trust this company with access to my child, so why should schools be pushing this?

The subject of data exploitation and privacy abuse is huge. So big, so insidious, and only so widely accepted because of public naivety, which is pretty much unavoidable due to the complexities involved. It’s impossible to convey in a few words, or even a few sentences or paragraphs. However, since I originally wrote this, a documentary team have had a good stab at the issue, so…

Here’s some Unsolicited AdviceTM

Start by watching The Social Dilemma – it’s a documentary with some dramatisation, and it provides a gentle introduction to the subject. If you don’t have Netflix, then find someone you know who does, and go round with sandwiches and a cake to enjoy while watching it together. If you don’t know anyone with Netflix, then ‘pirate’ it with BitTorrent!

I think it is crucial that we all lose our naivety, and make decisions and demands based on sound rational judgement. The revelations in The Social Dilemma are already quite well understood within many sectors of the tech industry. Lots of people have been warning about this stuff for years, but it’s all so opaque, abstract, and complex, all at once, that unless you are immersed in the tech world, it’s an uphill struggle to properly convey. And Netflix, to their credit, have managed to do a really good job – I’m genuinely surprised that they got away with it.

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