Cloud Services Pose Privacy Risk


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Most schools push their students to use the newest technology. Many schools are asking students to use cloud services to save their files and homework. While these services are convenient for both the students and the schools, they also come at the expense of privacy.

Many of the cloud services used by schools also have ad support. This means they services can show ads while the students are using the Cloud. The students may be asked to agree to terms and services that can including profiling for ad purposes. Since many student are underage and do not even understand what they are consenting to, many people have a problem with the use of these services. Many students aren’t even aware they have given consent for these services.

“We think any provider of cloud computing services to schools (Google Apps and Microsoft 365 included) should sign up to follow the Codes of Conduct outlined in the report,” said a SafeGov spokeswoman in an email.

According the SafeGov, even cloud service providers that do not show ads to students could still pose potential privacy risks.
“Based on our research, school and government customers of Google Apps are encouraged to add ‘non-core’ (ad-based) Google services such as search or YouTube, to the Google Apps for Education interface, which takes students from a purportedly ad-free environment to an ad-driven one,” the spokeswoman said.

“In at least one case we know of, it also requires the school to force students to accept the privacy policy before being able to continue using their accounts,” she said, adding that when this is done the user can click through to the ad-supported service without a warning that they will be profiled and tracked.

SafeGov hopes that Cloud service providers will be more likely to consider privacy risks and students and create better data storage options for them.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.