These days it seems as if everyone is mining data. That sounds something like coal mining but it’s more akin to gold mining. Except the gold is yours. Companies like Google, Amazon, and others that track your whereabouts online are mining gold. Yes, it’s data. But it might as well be gold because that data helps to bring in revenue and profits merely by tracking what you do online and turning it into revenue and profits.
Why are Google Chromebooks so cheap? How can Google and Chromebook manufacturers make any money on such cheap devices? Cheap? Chromebooks are available for $199. An aging MacBook Air is $999.
Google is much like Amazon in that they’re not concerned about profits on hardware. Apple, on the other hand, is a hardware company and needs gross margins and profits to survive. Seems as if Apple is doing well, though. But so is Google. Why? Google’s devices– smartphones with Android, cheap notebooks running Chrome– are data miners. They collect personal data, then slice and dice it for their own profits, but also sell that data to other advertising networks (Google works in partnership with many online advertising entities; which explains why a search for products on Google’s search engine show up in ads on other websites that target you and advertise what you searched for days earlier).
Over the years Google has dumped millions of cheap Chromebooks into U.S. schools. Schools love them and why not? They’re cheap. They’re easy to maintain. No malware to worry about. Did I mention cheap?
So, what’s the problem? Google enabled mass information collection on those devices, all without the consent of school administrators or student’s parents. That’s data mining. Google profits from information collected from students using Chromebooks in school.
Let me ask a basic question question about privacy. “Should Google be allowed to mine data and collection information about student’s who use Chromebooks in school (or, at home, for that matter) without consent from parents and school administrators?
Yet, most parents and administrators know nothing or little about Google’s rich data mining operation. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been tracking Google’s operations in public schools and data mining extends even beyond Google’s reach. Applications that children and schools use also capture information and carry it away as spoil; automatically and by default, and in some cases there is no opt-out option. Children and schools are being stalked by Google, advertisers, application developers, and others; enriching themselves by culling students of personal and identifiable information.
Apple sells computers to schools, so how is Apple different? Look at the stark contrast of what Google and co-horts do vs. Apple’s own policy.
Apple will never track, share, or sell student information for advertising or marketing purposes. We build powerful safeguards into all of our devices, operating systems, apps, and services — including Managed Apple IDs, which are kept under the administration of your district. So the security, privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of student information is always protected. And we never track students or build profiles based on their email content or web browsing.
That speaks volumes, but what school administrators are attracted to is price. Well, guess what? Price comes with a price. Your children are being tracked, folks.