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Online learning apps collected and sold children's data to Meta and Google: Report

Using online learning platforms to study? If yes, then you may want to stop as over 146 Edtech apps were found to be harvesting children's data. It was then sent to companies like Google and Meta for behavioral advertisements.

ONLINE LEARNING

The COVID-19 pandemic back in 2020 brought online learning programs to the rise. Ever since then, the online learning apps have been marketing the importance of learning in students’ own comfort in their homes. Governments across the world as well encouraged students to go to the online platforms for learning instead of the offline classes considering the COVID emergencies. However, as per a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), many such online learning apps and programs have been found to be harvesting data of children without their consent. Also Read - Top 5 WhatsApp features to look forward to: Edit messages, polls and more

Online learning apps threat to children? Data sent to third-party firms

HRW examined more than 150 EdTech products across 49 different countries and found that 89% of EdTech products monitored children’s data secretly or without their or parents’ consent. Moreover, 146 EdTech products out of 164 were found to be employing or having the capacity of using tracking technology to monitor young users. Also Read - Android 13 Beta 3 for Pixel phones released with Platform Stability

The data monitored or stored was then sold to third-party companies. HRW reveals that the aforementioned 146 Edtech apps were directly sending young users’ data to 196 third-party companies. It was being sent to advertisement companies that would then bombard you with relevance-based advertisements. Also Read - Meta pauses the development of its Apple Watch rival smartwatch with two cameras

“In process of endorsing and ensuring their wide adoption during COVID-19 school closures, governments offloaded the true costs of providing online education onto children, who were unknowingly forced to play for their learning with their rights to privacy, access to information and potentially freedom of thought,” stated the HRW report.

Reportedly, Apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex weren’t made for children to use for educational purposes. These apps were originally made for private organizations to conduct meetings and conferences. However, back then these apps were used by children for study purposes. While HRW doesn’t explicitly mention these apps to directly collect data, it does reveal that the learning apps such as ST Math often employed trackers that sent children’s data to Google and Meta for behavioral advertisements.

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  • Published Date: May 26, 2022 11:29 AM IST



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