Around 60% of school apps have been sending student data to a variety of third parties, including advertising platforms like Google and Facebook, without the knowledge or consent of students or parents, according to research by the nonprofit organization Me2B Alliance.
Breitbart reported, according to the organization’s data, public school apps were found to be more likely to send student data to third parties than private-school apps. Public schools were sending data 67% of the time, private schools were sending 57% of data from the school apps.
18% of public-school apps included very “high-risk” third parties. The High risk third parties could share data with possibly hundreds or thousands of networked entities, according to the report.
The organization found that Google Android apps are on average much more likely than Apple iOS apps to be sending data to third parties, and more likely to be sending to “high” or “very high-risk” third parties.
The Me2B Alliance Product Testing team said it audited a random sample of 73 apps from 38 schools in 14 states across the United States, covering over half a million people, including students, their families, and educators. The audit methodology mainly consisted of examining data flow from the apps to external third-party vendors.
Me2B Alliance warned that “there is an unacceptable amount of student data shared with third parties — particularly advertisers and analytics platforms — in school apps,” and stressed that school apps, whether iOS or Android, public or private schools should not be including third-party data channels.
“The findings from our research show the pervasiveness of data sharing with high-risk entities and the amount of people whose data could be compromised due to schools’ lack of resources,” said Lisa LeVasseur, executive director of Me2B Alliance.
“The study aims to bring these concerns to light to ensure the right funding support and protections are in place to safeguard our most vulnerable citizens — our children,” LeVasseur added.