Student and Civilian Information Sold to Advertising Companies

Calgarians on their morning commute at the Brentwood LRT Station. (Photo by Pier Moreno Silvestri/SAIT Polytechnic)
Calgarians’ morning commute at the Brentwood LRT Station on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Photo by Pier E MS)

By Pier E MS

Information about everything we do is at all times being collected to advertise to us.

Educational data is collected from schools in exchange for money or assets from companies that want to target a narrowed market.

Those ads beside search bars or at the beginning or a search engine are targeted to the specific person using the site.

“I like seeing ads that are targeted at me, because then I have to do less searching to find interesting things” Sarah Auger, a Costco employee, said.

“Having a targeted ad gives me ideas of things to look up on my own, and points me in the direction I want to go.” Daniel Koch, a University of Calgary student, said.

Schools nowadays sell student information to advertising companies, schools distribute such information for research or demographics.

Before the use of technology, schools and companies filed their information in paper format.

It was impossible to use that to be targeted by advertising companies.

As opposed to the current way information is stored where is it likely to never be deleted.

Advertising directed at students based on data collected from them is frowned upon at times because their data should not be a product or a commodity.

Also because targeting to young kids that are susceptible might be undesired by parents for their child’s proper development.

The possibility of a student being a victim to cyber attacks is much greater by the use of targeted advertising, and privacy breaches are easier to target younger children everyday.

These companies understand how to develop products specifically designed to be used by said students.

They take advantage that they will make up a huge amount of the population in the near future.

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is the government policy created to protect students and the public from being targeted in a situation where it might be a commodity for someone else.

This policy has to be updated constantly to keep up with the advances in technology.

Long before technology took such a dominant place in daily lives, the responsibility to keep up with the trends wasn’t as demanding.

So the problem arises when there are no guidelines for the current way that information and records of students and civilians are being stored with no rules to protect them.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Auger said.

“I don’t really like that it’s all done without expressed consent,” Koch said.

Student and public privacy is at risk when selling this information, if not protected all of peoples daily activities are being used by someone else, even if no permission was granted.

Controlling information on the Cloud is a challenge even for the current advances in technologies.

Although the Cloud saves money, is faster, and more accessible anywhere anytime, it is also much harder to control.

The suggested solutions to this new problem is demanding more of companies that use this information by having them commit to not using data for non educational purposes when it is the case, and clearer contracts.

Otherwise technology providers have no incentive to provide further innovations in a constantly changing climate that demands it, stalling development.