Roughly 60 percent of school apps have been sending student data to a variety of potentially high-risk third parties, without the knowledge or consent of students or parents, according to research by the nonprofit organization Me2B Alliance.
Public school apps were found to be sending student data to third parties 67 percent of the time, while those used by private schools were sending data 57 percent of the time. Meanwhile, 18 percent of public school apps included “high-risk” third parties — meaning organizations that go on to share data with potentially hundreds or thousands of entities.
Me2B Alliance added that on average, there were more than ten third party data channels per app, and that Google Android apps are much more likely to be sending data to third parties, as well as to “high” or “very high-risk” third parties when compared to Apple iOS apps.
The organization said it audited a random sample of 73 apps from 38 different schools in 14 states across the United States, and covered over half a million people, including students, their families, and educators. The audit methodology mainly involved examining data flow from the apps to external third-parties.
Me2B Alliance added that “there is an unacceptable amount of student data shared with third parties — particularly advertisers and analytics platforms — in school apps,” and stressed that school apps should not be including third-party data channels.
“The findings from our research show the pervasiveness of data sharing with high-risk entities and the amount of people whose data could be compromised due to schools’ lack of resources,” said Lisa LeVasseur, executive director of Me2B Alliance.
“The study aims to bring these concerns to light to ensure the right funding support and protections are in place to safeguard our most vulnerable citizens — our children,” LeVasseur added.