A Big Win for Student Privacy

By: Josh Golin

Update: As of April 21, 2014 inBloom announced it will be officially closing its doors.

This week, New York State ended its relationship with inBloom, a Gates Foundation initiative to help corporations profit from students’ most sensitive and confidential information. inBloom planned to electronically share students’ data — including names, home  and email addresses, test scores, racial identity, economic and special education status, and even detailed disciplinary and health records — with for-profit corporations, without any guarantee that the information would be safeguarded.

Thanks to widespread parent protests, each of the nine states originally committed to participate in this controversial project have either officially withdrawn or have no plans to move forward. For all intents and purposes, inBloom is no longer a threat to students.

CCFC is proud of the role we played in stopping inBloom. In our home state, we organized parents and coalition partners like the Massachusetts ACLU and PTA to prevent inBloom from taking hold. In other states, like Illinois and Colorado, we provided technical support to local activists and encouraged our members to email education officials and speak-out at school board meetings and hearings. In New York, we urged CCFC members to support the efforts of Class Size Matters, whose tireless organizing made the difference in ending that state’s participation in inBloom.

This important victory is one step in what will be a long fight to protect students’ privacy. Public schools, which collect a wealth of personal information about students, are particularly attractive targets for corporate marketers. That’s why CCFC will continue to work with coalition partners to stop marketers from accessing and exploiting students’ confidential data. Here in Massachusetts, we are working to pass comprehensive student privacy legislation that we hope will serve as a model for other states.

It won’t be easy. There’s a lot of money to be made from students’ data and powerful forces with deep pockets will certainly try to thwart our efforts. But this inBloom victory demonstrates the significant power of parents — and that working together, we can stop corporate data-miners from invading our schools.