A government-recommended online learning tool used by thousands of schools during the lockdown harvested the data of children, an investigation has found.
Research done by the NGO Human Rights Watch has found that an online learning tool recommended to schools by the British government during lockdown harvested the data of children who used it.
Edpuzzle, an online learning platform was found to collect significant amounts of data from its users — including keyboard strokes and mouse movements — some of whom were reportedly as young as five years old.
According to a report by The Telegraph, which has seen the research, over 1,000 schools availed of the service which allegedly contained four different third-party “ad trackers”, which recorded information regarding a person’s actions while using the website.
The company has since reportedly admitted that its products — many of which are aimed at children — gathered user data, but that this information was harvested for internal use and has not been sold on to third parties.
That being said, The Telegraph notes that some have expressed concern that the company did not make it sufficiently clear that it was gathering data with its products in the first place, and it should now be deleted.
“If [the data] has been collected without the permission of parents and children it should be deleted,” said on Labour MP, Chi Obwurah, regarding the company’s actions.
A member of the House of Lords, Beeban Kidron, meanwhile said that the government’s Department for Education should stop recommending such learning products for schools until it has “established regulatory standards”,
“Can you imagine DfE recommending playground equipment that has not met any safety standards?” she asked. “Of course not.”
Development of Young Children ‘Regressed’ During COVID Lockdowns – Report https://t.co/lOt7Up01Mf
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 4, 2022
The news that children in the UK and beyond had their data harvested by tech companies is just the latest example of how kids suffered during the pandemic.
A number of separate studies and research projects have found that young children specifically were some of the worst affected people during lockdown, with a study released last week being the latest to come to this conclusion.
Published by the Education Endowment Foundation, the research found that the development of children aged four and five was found to be stunted when compared to their pre-COVID peers.
Overall, only 59 per cent of kids within that age range in 2021 reportedly met an expected level of competency for skills related to communication and language, physical development, literacy, maths, and personal, social and emotional development, compared to 72 per cent of those within that age group in 2019.
“It is deeply concerning to see the wide-ranging impacts that the pandemic has had on the development of the youngest children,” said the foundation’s chairman, Peter Lampl, regarding the study.
“The early years are vital for social mobility as this is where gaps in outcomes first begin to take hold,” he continued. “If the government are to meet their rightfully ambitious targets on numeracy and literacy by 2030, there needs to be a concerted focus on the early years.”