May 21, 2022

New EFF Report: “Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy”

After a two-year investigation, a new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation is linked below. These is a lot to discuss here.

Along with its findings the report includes many reasons why a basic understanding of digital privacy issues is vital.

We believe with the proper training (including frequent updates) the library community is an ideal group (people trust us) to disseminate this important and dynamic knowledge.

The report includes a section and case study that go directly to these issues.

  • Inadequate Technology and Privacy Training for Teachers
  • Case Study: An Illinois Librarian on Better Teacher Training


Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy


Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

From the Introduction:

Students are using technology in the classroom at an unprecedented rate. One-third of all K-12 students in U.S. schools use school-issued devices.

Google Chromebooks account for about half of those machines. Across the U.S., more than 30 million students, teachers, and administrators use Google’s G Suite for Education (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), and that number is rapidly growing.

Student laptops and educational services are often available for a steeply reduced price, and are sometimes even free. However, they come with real costs and unresolved ethical questions.

Throughout EFF’s investigation over the past two years, we have found that educational technology services often collect far more information on kids than is necessary and store this information indefinitely.

This privacy-implicating information goes beyond personally identifying information (PII) like name and date of birth, and can include browsing history, search terms, location data, contact lists, and behavioral information. Some programs upload this student data to the cloud automatically and by default. All of this often happens without the awareness or consent of students and their families.

In short, technology providers are spying on students—and school districts, which often provide inadequate privacy policies or no privacy policy at all, are unwittingly helping them do it.

Direct to Full Text (HTML)

Direct to PDF Version
49 pages. 

Previous Posts re: Google and Student Privacy

See Also: Privacy: Google is No Longer Mining Student Gmail (Official Statement) (April 30, 2014)

See Also: Privacy: Google Admits to Data-Mining Student Emails (March 19, 2014)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.