E-learning products enabled child monitoring

(New York) – The overwhelming majority of educational technology (EdTech) products endorsed by 49 governments of the world’s most populous countries and analyzed by Human Rights Watch appear to have monitored or had the ability to monitor children in ways that risked or violated their lives. human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch has released technical evidence and easy-to-view privacy profiles for 163 recommended EdTech products for children’s learning during the pandemic.

Of the 163 products reviewed, 145 (89%) monitored or had the ability to monitor children, outside of school hours and deep in their privacy. Many products have been discovered to collect information about children, such as who they are, where they are, what they are doing in class, who their family and friends are, and what kind of device their family may be using. allow to use for online learning. This evidence underlies the May 25, 2022 report, “How Dare They Peek Into My Privacy? : Violations of children’s rights by governments that approved online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. »

“Children, parents and teachers have been widely informed about the data surveillance practices that we have discovered in children’s online classrooms,” said Hye Jung Han, researcher and human rights advocate. Child and Technology at Human Rights Watch. “By understanding how these e-learning tools have handled their child’s privacy, people can more effectively demand the protection of children online.”

Few governments have checked whether the EdTech products they quickly approved during the Covid-19 pandemic were safe for children. Many governments directly endanger or violate the rights of children. Of the 42 governments that provided online education to children by creating and offering their own EdTech products for use, 39 governments created products that handled children’s personal data in ways that risked or violated their rights.

Human Rights Watch found that data surveillance took place in educational contexts where children could not reasonably object to such surveillance. Most companies did not allow students to opt out of monitoring, and most of this monitoring took place in secret, without the knowledge or consent of the child or family. In most cases, it was impossible for children to opt out of this surveillance without giving up their formal education during the pandemic.

Evidence includes easy-to-view privacy profiles designed for parents, teachers, and others to help them understand how government-recommended EdTech products may have handled children’s data and privacy at the time of analysis. Human Rights Watch invites experts, journalists, policymakers, and readers to test and interact with technical data and evidence.

Human Rights Watch has launched a global campaign, #StudentsNotProducts, which brings together parents, teachers, children and allies to demand protections for children online.

“Children are priceless, not products,” Han said. “Governments should enact and enforce modern child data protection laws to end surveillance of children by actors who do not have the best interests of children at heart.”