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Education Data Cloud Storage Initiative Raises Privacy Fears

Thu, 19 Sep 2013 15:35:34 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

Concerns are riising nationally over a data storage agreement backed by the Gated Foundation. Bloomington's District 87 is a pilot site for the inBloom concept of storing child data in a computer cloud. That's supposed to make it accessible to various analytical tools that before now have required expensive separate data entry to use. But, some advocates worry the data is not secure enough or could be used by a for profit corporation. State School Superintendent Chris Koch, says even though five states have pulled out of the initiative, the future of education is in cloud data storage.

   
"It still doesn't mean that it's not the right thing to do. I understand push back in a climate where folks have mis-information about what's coming from the federal government, what can be used for which purposes. It's fine to ask questions. But, once we get the information, let's make the right decisions on behalf of students."

   
"Do we want every school district in a state like Illinois to build technology infrastructure to have servers in their buildings? From a cost efficiency point of view that doesn't make sense. And I believe you can use the cloud in a secure way. Do we need to keep reflecting as we build these things? Absolutely.

Koch says data security is ever evolving. He says every agreement the state enters into contains provisions against corporate use of confidential student data. He says only aggregate data use is allowed. Koch says the state and school districts are also in strict compliance with federal privacy laws. There is a lawsuit at the federal level alleging a re-write of the law to accommodate the cloud initiative undercuts the intent of the statute. State Board Chairman Gery Chico says, though, that Bloomington is at the cutting edge of such technology that will make it easier for educators to serve individual students.


     

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