Data Mining: Has it crossed a line?

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In light of the Facebook Messenger App’s bad press, the NSA’s serial surveillance of the US population and Google’s mass marketing efforts through data collection; it’s surprising that more people aren’t infuriated about the controversial issue of Data Mining infringing on their privacy.


The practice is simple, you find a mechanism that can accept input data from a target, execute the mechanism and collect the data generated. In layman’s terms, that’s recording what you post on Facebook, what you write in texts, what you watch on TV, even what you take photographically. It’s all recorded in some way or another and owners of most smartphones are aware of just how much of their data is harvested for the purposes of advertising the right product or service. In some cases, such as the NSA (National Security Agency), the aim is less about marketing and more about catching criminals, terrorists and other malicious individuals. Of course, as noble as this might be, scandals soon arise and suddenly the whole process rears a very ugly head indeed.



Today, we learnt something slightly more intriguing, the RFID card used by a child to catch the school bus, the check in time in their classroom and even every keystroke in a child’s IT lesson, is completely recorded by one of several data-mining companies. Jose Ferreira of education data-mining company Knewton, gives his thoughts, “We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has. We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”He goes on to say that education is the world’s most data-mineable industry by far and that through the right data, the company can begin to figure out what food, behaviours, lesson styles and the like can push students to perform better in school.


Even though this may seem well-intended, many privacy advocates have spoken out against data mining, as labels generated by the practice may follow an individual all through their school, work and even personal lives. Cameron Evans, Chief Technology Officer for IT supergiant Microsoft, sheds light on the problem, “It’s a label that could follow a kid through school. In the past, schools would have never had this data, but now that it’s electronic, we can correlate data in a way that we never ever had the opportunity to do before. ”


Do you think the issue of data mining is getting out of control? Can it be used as a force for positive change in the classroom? Let us know your thoughts and make sure to sign up to SeekTeachers for the newest information, the latest news and the hottest jobs from all across the academic globe!


[Source: Marketplace - A day in the life of a data mined kid]