Michelle Malkin: Protect kids from Google predators
The father of the World Wide Web is right: It’s time to take back “complete control of your data.”
Tim Berners-Lee, who conceived the first internet browser 30 years ago, warned of its increasing threats to “privacy, security and fundamental rights.” To mark the anniversary, he argued that demanding transparency is key to stopping the web’s “downward plunge to a dysfunctional future.”
Berners-Lee specifically cautioned against the dangers of internet browsers’ keeping “track of everything you buy.” The world’s top browser is Google Chrome. But spying on our purchases is the least we have to worry about with Google and its $800 billion parent company, Alphabet.
Google’s predation starts early, often with our children. The Silicon Valley giant has hooked legions of children and teachers into its data mining products through lucrative partnerships with public schools across America.
Google now has 80 million educators and students around the world using G Suite for Education, 40 million students and teachers in Google Classroom and 30 million more using Google Chromebooks.
Google has gotten away with unauthorized scanning and indexing of student email accounts and targeted online advertising based on search engine activity, as well as auto-syncing of passwords, browsing history and other private data across devices and accounts belonging to students and families unaware of default tracking.
K-12 children in tens of thousands of schools began the academic year by lining up at the library to create Gmail accounts and Google Classroom logins without parental notification or permission. There’s no escape: No Google, no access. No access, no education.
Google apps such as ClassDojo collect intimate behavioral data and long-term psychological profiles encompassing family information, personal messages, photographs and voice notes. The collection of such data is a nanny state nightmare in the making.
Meanwhile, preschoolers are being trained to flash “Clever Badges” with QR codes in front of their Google Chromebook webcams. These badges “seamlessly” log them into Google World and all its apps without all the “stress” of remembering passwords. Addicted toddlers are being indoctrinated into the screen time culture without learning how to exercise autonomy over their own data.
Given the privacy breaches, public safety dangers, illegal data profiteering and child predation — not to mention the mental health crisis among America’s youngsters connected to social media pathologies — there should be a nationwide clamor to deplatform Google completely from public schools. Until that revolt, it’s up to moms and dads to seize control:
1. Refuse to surrender your child’s privacy as the price of admission to school. Google logins must not be a requirement to participate in the classroom.
2. Demand disclosure of edutech terms of service for all apps, software and hardware.
3. If your child has already been dragooned into G Suite, dive into its “Activity Controls” and the “Manage Activity” section. Investigate the settings for password auto-save and auto sign-in, tracking of YouTube search and watch histories, live chat transcripts, sync and “Remove the Device” functions. Hold your school district’s administrators accountable for putting your kids’ privacy first.
4. Wean yourselves — not just your kids — off Google.
Control begins with you, not G.
Michelle Malkin is a conservative blogger, syndicated columnist, author and Fox News Channel contributor.