Internet Society Foundation grant strengthens Me2B Alliance’s efforts to uncover how mandated technology is treating sensitive student data
November 23, 2021 09:00 ET | Source: Me2B Alliance
SAN DIEGO, Nov. 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Me2B Alliance, a non-profit standards and advocacy organization focused on safe and respectful technology, today announced that it has been awarded a $100,000 grant by the Internet Society Foundation. The foundation funds initiatives that strengthen the Internet in function and reach so that it can effectively serve all people.
The Me2B Alliance will utilize the grant to complete its “U.S. EdTech Industry Benchmark: Data Sharing in Primary & Secondary School Mobile Utility Apps.” The research aims to raise awareness about harmful data sharing practices by uncovering how sensitive student information is being treated by school utility apps in grades pre-k through 12.
The Me2B Alliance strives to bring everyday people (Me-s) into its Safe and Respectful Tech Specification development process so that the voice of Me-s drives the definition of safe and respectful technology. Me2BA’s mission is to create a safe and just digital world through standards development and independent testing of technology. The Internet Society Foundation grant will help validate Me2BA’s work toward ensuring that the Internet is safe, and the products produced for use on the Internet such as apps and websites, are trustworthy and respectful.
Children in grades pre-k through 12 are among the most vulnerable Internet users. They are often obligated to use web-connected tools, including school utility apps, for day-to-day communication. Without proper standards in place, these children are susceptible to privacy risks.
The risks to children and parents are real. Earlier this year the Me2B Alliance Product Testing team audited and analyzed a random sample of mobile applications used by 38 U.S. schools in 14 states. The analysis found that the majority (60%) of school apps were sending student data to a variety of third parties without the knowledge of the students, parents or even the school. 58% of the third parties receiving data were high risk advertising and analytics entities.
The Me2B Alliance’s “U.S. EdTech Industry Benchmark: Data Sharing in Primary & Secondary School Mobile Utility Apps” will build on those previous findings by expanding its scope to include schools across the nation. The expected outcome is to reaffirm that school utility apps are, in fact, abusing the privacy of students and parents across the U.S. by rampantly sharing personal information with multiple third-party vendors.
The research will identify current common practices by school utility apps relating to several factors, including:
- How much data sharing with third parties is occurring
- Who student data is being shared with
- What kind of data is being shared
- If privacy policies are accurately reflecting the observed behavior
In selecting the Me2B Alliance’s application for funding, the Internet Society Foundation acknowledges that Me2BA’s work is in line with the Foundation’s efforts to ensure that the Internet is open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy.
“We are proud to have been selected to receive the ISOC Foundation grant through this competitive process,” said Lisa LeVasseur, executive director at Me2B Alliance. “The support validates our ongoing commitment to producing meaningful research and establishing best practices for safe and respectful technology to protect not just children and parents, but every person who interacts with Internet-connected tech.”
The Me2B Alliance invites experts, business leaders and individuals interested in advancing standards in safe and ethical data and mobile and Internet practices to visit its website to learn more about Me2B Alliance membership, current Me2BA research, its educational tools, and its advocacy work.
About the Me2B Alliance
The Me2B Alliance is a nonprofit standards developing organization and industry watchdog, working to ensure that all internet technology is safe and respectful. We are driven to prevent the full spectrum of digital harms by creating the first safety standard for the internet, advocating for consumer rights, and developing educational content and tools to shine a spotlight on the risks associated with using internet-connected technology. Our mission is to create a safe and just digital world through standards development and independent testing of technology to give individuals more say in how technology treats people.
About The Internet Society Foundation:
The Internet Society Foundation was established in 2019 to support the positive difference the Internet can make to people everywhere. Guided by our vision of an Internet for Everyone, the Foundation champions ideas and enables communities to unlock the Internet’s potential to tackle the world’s evolving challenges. Focusing in five programme areas, the Foundation awards grants to Internet Society Chapters as well as non-profit organizations and individuals dedicated to providing meaningful access to an open, globally-connected, secure and trustworthy Internet for everyone.
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