A new report finds that, under the guise of “personalized learning,” school-issued computer devices — now distributed to one-third of K-12 students in schools across the United States — are serving to collect and store an unprecedented amount of personal data on children without their parents’ notice or consent. A newly released investigation by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals student use of technology in school has grown at a profound rate, especially with free or low-fee devices issued by schools.
All their emails, text messages, passwords, accounts, searches, and internet histories as kids, frozen in time for all of time. There was one case where school officials were turning on the cameras and watching what kids were doing in their rooms, in the privacy of their homes.
I will bet that data is being scooped up and stored somewhere official. More and more I am convinced if there is a comprehensive record about who people are, it is too valuable to just be left on a shelf somewhere. There are people out there looking to get their hands on it.
One of the nice aspects of a world with privacy, where your past drifts into the ether and disappears with time, is the opportunity for growth throughout life. You can be an asshole as a kid, change, and the lasting permutation of “you” in the world can improve with time and experience. But today, between facebook, Twitter, government surveillance, private sector surveillance, and so on, kids will more and more be trapped by their past, and permanently attached to it.
You have to wonder if it will produce a sense of shamelessness in the population. Once you adjust to being known for stealing an apple in the third grade, then you steal packs of gum in middle school, and then you steal computers from school in high school – and you don’t care about what it says about you, because the gum thief was already an apple thief, and the computer thief was already a gum thief.
Given the pervasiveness of it, everyone’s record is exactly the same – trapped shamelessly at the level of assholishness, and with all the mistakes they made at 6, 10, and 13 years old. Redditors laughing at the massive levels of highly perverted and twisted personal porn consumption the NSA must have accrued in all of their files now may become different people than they might have been if they had privacy.
You wonder what will happen when everyone exhibits that phenomenon, freezing their sense of moral identity at age five or six, and never even trying to change.