Online school.  Students’ personal information used for advertising.  Example from Romania

Online school. Students’ personal information used for advertising. Example from Romania

The report shows that the governments of the 49 most populous countries in the world have violated the rights of children by promoting e-learning products by failing to properly protect the privacy of users’ personal data.

The study is based on a technical analysis of 164 educational technology products (EdTech) approved by 49 countries during the Covid epidemic. The study includes a survey of 290 companies that found that they have been collecting, processing or receiving child data since March 2021.

An analysis from March to August 2021 shows that most online learning platforms send child data or make it available to advertising technology companies (AdTech). Thus, some “EdTech” products were later aimed at children with behavioral advertising.

By using children’s data on their personalized content, the ads they follow on the Internet, these companies have not only distorted children’s online experiences, but also paved the way for influencing their opinions and beliefs when they may be easy. , the study shows.

The case in Romania. Intuition school proposed by the Ministry of Education

Human Rights Watch’s report contains several case studies, including a report by Softwin proposed by the Romanian Ministry of Education.

This is Softwin’s Softtu Intuitext application, which in its privacy policy reveals that it posts 23 marketing cookies aimed at students with behavioral ads on the Internet, the report said.

Marketing cookies are used to redirect users from one site to another. The report states that the aim is to show relevant, engaging ads to individual users so that they are more valuable to advertisers, to third-party advertisers.

Human Rights Watch says it has contacted Softwin for comment, and its representatives say their product is “actually dedicated primarily to teachers / educators, only their children or parents’ subsidiary.”

Softwin acknowledged that it sends user data through marketing cookies to Facebook Pixel և Google Analytics, which does so to target adults “in places where our core customers (teachers / educators) are active”, including Facebook և Google:

Softwin responded that “to be clear, no child data collected by ScoalaIntuitext.ro is used for advertising, behavioral advertising or any other commercial purpose.”

The company denies sending the child’s data to third parties or AdTech’s companies, and says its child’s data is not used for advertising, behavioral advertising or user profiling.

The report also shows that the application used in Romania requires students to show it to the teacher when they discover it.

The app includes four sharing buttons that, when logged in, take you to a social platform or a new platform that requires a student to sign in via email to share text.

Human Rights Watch also found that Intuitext School included tracking technologies in child-accessible pages, including the Children page.

Intuitext sent user data to AdTech companies through third-party marketing cookies such as Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics.

The company does not accept the use of tools to track users through advertising, but Human Rights Watch says it has found no evidence that this practice of using data is restricted to adults.

Free Europe contacted Softwin for comment, but no questions were answered until this article was published.

In a reply to Free Europe on Thursday, Intuitex School said that “the data of children using the Intuitext School application is not used for marketing purposes, it is not transferred to any third party in this regard.”

Intuitive response

According to Intuitext, the HRW study focused only on the ‘scoalaintuitext.ro public presentation page և not the app where students (և teachers / parents) log in to access educational content’, և children և adult data who use ScoalaIntuitext: will be used “exclusively for purposes directly related to Intuitext School (application operation, customer relations or, possibly, news subscription).”

For ScoalaIntuitext.ro, “we are not talking about children’s personal information (name, email, class or other personal information) that has been used in any way for advertising. Moreover, no online school classes were held through ScoalaIntuitext.ro, ”the company adds.

“The study also includes educational programs designed, managed or funded by governments or public funds through private educational solutions that are freely available in the commercial market,” Intuitext told Free Europe.

Human Rights Watch. Children could not reasonably object to such online surveillance

The situation in Romania is not unique. A Human Rights Watch report shows that all governments except Morocco have approved at least one EdTech product that violates children’s rights.

Research also shows that most EdTech products are offered to governments at no direct financial cost.

“By facilitating the widespread adoption of EdTech products, governments have shifted the real costs of providing online education to children who have unknowingly had to pay for education with their right to privacy, access to information, and possibly their freedom.” “The report shows.

The document states that the data control took place in virtual classrooms and educational institutions, where children could not reasonably object to such control.

Most EdTech companies did not allow students to refuse to come with them; most of this monitoring took place in secret, without the child’s knowledge or consent.

In many cases, it was impossible for children to give up such control և data collection without giving up compulsory education չհ not giving up formal education altogether during the epidemic, the report said.

“Governments have opened the door for companies to monitor children online, outside of school hours, in the privacy of their own lives, failing to guarantee that they offer online learning products that protect them,” said Hey Jung Han, a rights researcher. child: և Technology և Lawyer at Human Rights Watch.

Of the 164 EdTech products analyzed in the report, 146 (89%) monitored or had the opportunity to monitor children, mostly in secret, without the consent of their children or parents, often collecting personal information such as who they were and where. they are what they do in class, details about their family և friends և what device their families can afford to buy.

Human Rights Watch calls on governments to pass data protection laws to protect children online.

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