During the Covid-19 pandemic and the many incarcerations, many countries have used educational software, EdTech, to offer online education to millions of children. Problem, some platforms did not hesitate to collect these minors’ personal data without their knowledge. At least that’s what the latest report from the NGO Human Rights Watch reveals.
As you know, many countries around the world have opted for containment to combat the spread of Covid-19 during the pandemic. In fact, hundreds of millions of children have been trapped at home,forced to learn through online platforms. In France, this was the case with Ma Classe à la maison, a platform that has been conspicuous by its repeated crashes, particularly caused by several cyber attacks.
But as we learn from the latest report from the NGO Human Rights Watch, the governments of 49 countries including France have violated the rights of millions of children by promoting educational software and platforms that did not protect the privacy of these minors.
Data from millions of children collected without their knowledge
This report, entitled “Violation of children’s rights by governments that supported online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic” is based on a technical and political analysis conducted by the NGO and several international media (including Mediapart) on 164 education technologies (EDTech) used by 46 countries.
This survey includes a review of 290 companies, all of which have collected, processed or received data from millions of minors since March 2021. Of the 164 EdTech products screened by the NGO and the media consortium, 146 involved in data collection practices that violated children’s rights.
Among other things, these products had the ability to monitor children’s online activity without their or their parents’ consent. A lot of personal data was collected, such as their complete identity, their geographical location, their school resultsthe identity of their family members and what types of devices the children use.
Also read: Containment shows that 30% of teens no longer know how to use a PC
Full online monitoring, even after classes
Most of those platforms are established tracking technologies who tracked children’s online activity outside the virtual teaching time. This can not be remedied unless you change device or use a VPN.
The icing on the cake has been sent or given by some companies behind this educational software access to minors’ data for Ad Tech companies. Or companies specializing in programming the purchase / sale of online advertising space.
In fact, education platforms have targeted children with personal advertising. “By using children’s data – extracted from educational contexts – to target them with personal content and ads that follow them around the internet, these companies have not only distorted children’s online experiences, but they have also risked influencing their opinions and beliefs at some point. in their lives when they were very much exposed to manipulative interference, ” assures the NGO.
Each government has approved one of their products
As Human Rights Watch reports, 45 out of 46 governments (Morocco is the exception) have adopted at least one EdTech product that threatened or undermined children’s rights. It should be mentioned that the majority of educational software publishers supplied their products to the states free of charge, for meet the urgent needs of countries in terms of education platforms.
In this way, the governments involved have avoided financing the real costs of setting up online education for children… to the detriment of the privacy rights of these minors. Take effect, few countries have verified whether these educational technologies are safe for children at all levels.
Of course, the NGO shared the conclusions of this report with the 95 EdTech companies, 196 Ad Tech companies, and the 49 governments mentioned in this study. Total, 48 EdTech companies, 78 Ad Tech companies and 10 governments have officially responded pr. May 24, 2022
Most EdTech companies refused to collect data from children, while web marketing companies refused to know that the data they received belonged to children. They even gave the ball back to their customers, saying it was their responsibility not to send data belonging to minors.
Following the publication of this report, Human Rights Watch launched a global campaignsupported by teachers, parents of students, media and associations to requires additional protection for children learning online.
Source: Human Rights Watch