Student Privacy Concerns Shrink inBloom's Reach

The backlash against inBloom over student data privacy appears to be taking a toll. The latest from Reuters suggests that support is waning for the $100 million project to create an infrastructure to standardize, collect, and track K-12 student data. (It is also creating a library of online resources, but this has been much less contentious.) The number of partner states, initially listed at seven, has now dwindled to New York, Illinois, and Colorado, with Massachusetts and North Carolina on the fence. Three states originally listed as partners (Kentucky, Georgia, Delaware) reportedly "never made a commitment and have no intention of participating."

Much of the controversy centers on the possibility of sensitive student data (like Social Security numbers) falling into the wrong hands and the lack of a clear opt-out option for parents, as evident in a recent townhall gathering in New York. Aside from FAQs on its website and with watchdog blogger Audrey Watters, however, inBloom hasn't been too proactive or successful in the war of words. According to the Reuters piece, even "officials at inBloom say they have done a poor job articulating the need for the database."

Update (6/3/2013): AFT president Randi Weingarten issued a statement on May 31 expressing the need to be "more vigilant than ever about the privacy and security rights of students, teachers and the American people." The AFT has also sent a letter to inBloom's funders to clarify its concerns.

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