Created and funded by the Gates and Carnegie Foundations with $100 million, inBloom Inc. was designed to collect a maximum amount of confidential and personally identifiable student and teacher data from school districts and states throughout the country. This information — including student names, addresses, grades, test scores, economic, race, special education status, disciplinary status and more — was to be stored on a data cloud run by Amazon.com, with an operating system by Wireless/Amplify, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. InBloom Inc. planned to share this highly sensitive information with software companies and other for-profit vendors.

Leonie Haimson, InBloom and the need to protect student privacy

Just when you thought you had enough, the district is spending more money on more standardized tests. The Seattle Public School district wants to buy Amplify’s mClass Beacon to implement it district-wide in 2016. It is to be administered at the end of the school year but because of the testing that is already set into place, there is no time for students to take it in May or June so it will be given in February.

The cost of the pilot program implemented in 50 schools in 2014 came just under $250k. That is under the $250,000 threshold required for approval by the Seattle school board. Coincidence? I think not. This was the same tactic used when folks at the Stanford Center decided we needed more of the MAP test. The school board and public were not given the opportunity to discuss, debate or vote on either battery of tests.

Now the district wants to implement Amplify across the district at an estimated cost of $433,160.

Unfortunately there are those at the Stanford Center who have different agendas from that of the public’s best interest, but more on that later.

I asked Leonie Haimson with NPE, who is a founding member of Parents Across America and who also founded Class Size Matters, recently about Amplify. It was to be a part of a data collection and sharing system in New York State called in-Bloom until parents pressured the state to pull out of the agreement.

In Leonie Haimson’s post InBloom and the need to protect student privacy:

The backers of inBloom pitched the project as an effort to help students by providing more personalized learning tools, yet there are no proven benefits to online learning and there are huge risks involved in commercializing this data and storing it on a vulnerable data cloud.  In fact, inBloom’s privacy policy originally stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored in inBloom or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted,”  though it has now taken that statement off its website.

When it launched, InBloom Inc.  announced that nine states were “partners” in its data-sharing plan. However, after protests from parents and privacy advocates, three of these states have pulled out completely (LA, CO, NC), put their their data-sharing plans on indefinite hold (MA for its one “pilot” district, Everett), make data-sharing completely voluntary on the part of districts (IL) or  now say they never planned to share personal student data in the first place (KY, DE, GA).  New York was the last inBloom participant to share data statewide, involving the personal information of 2.7 million students, and intended to do this without any parental notification or consent.  

Because of the egregious over-reaching of the Gates Foundation and inBloom, parents throughout the country have now been awakened to the myriad threats to student privacy as a result of the weakening of FERPA, the federal legislation to protect student privacy,  the wide variety of data-sharing practices that districts and states are engaged in, the P12  state longitudinal data systems required by federal law, and the huge push for data-collecting, data-sharing and data-mining, all in the  name of “personalized learning.”

Leonie’s response to me when I asked about Amplify being used in Washington States was the following:

You need the agreement that Seattle has made with Amplify; you should demand this, especially as it supercedes whatever info is only their privacy policy, which is very weak and allows them to hand off personal student information to others and to use it to develop new products and for marketing purposes.  You can also ask Amplify directly by emailing them at privacy@amplify.com.

From Amplify’s website:

Please note that when you use certain (Amplify) products, services, applications or other websites, our use of your information may be governed by a separate legal agreement or a privacy policy specifically posted in connection with those offerings. If you have any question as to what legal agreement or privacy policy controls the collection and use of your information, please contact us using the contact information below….

To improve our products and services.
We may use your personal information for our business purposes, such as data analysis, audits, developing new products and services, enhancing the Site, improving our services, identifying usage trends, and determining the effectiveness of our promotional campaigns.

To share with our affiliated education companies.
Amplify may share your information with Amplify’s affiliated education companies for the purposes described in this Privacy Policy.

To allow service providers to assist us.
We may engage third party service providers, agents and partners (“Third Party Agents”) to perform functions on our behalf, such as marketing, analytics, credit card processing, shipping or stocking orders and providing customer service. We may disclose your personal information to such Third Party Agents to enable them to assist us in these efforts.

To protect the rights of Amplify and our users.
There may be instances when Amplify may disclose your information, in situations where Amplify has a good faith belief that such disclosure is necessary or appropriate in order to: (i) protect, enforce, or defend the legal rights, privacy, safety, operations, or property of Amplify, our parents, subsidiaries or affiliates or our or their employees, agents and contractors (including enforcement of our agreements, including our terms of use); (ii) protect the rights, safety, privacy, security or property of users of the Site or others; (iii) protect against fraud or for risk management purposes; (iv) comply with the law or legal process, including laws outside your country of residence; (v) respond to requests from public and government authorities, including those outside your country of residence; or (vi) allow us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain.

To complete a merger or sale of assets.
If Amplify sells all or part of its business or makes a sale or transfer of its assets or is otherwise involved in a merger, transfer or other disposition of all or part of its business, assets or stock (including in connection with any bankruptcy or similar proceedings), Amplify may transfer your information to the party or parties involved in the transaction.


5. Security
Amplify uses commercially reasonable administrative, technical, personnel and physical measures to safeguard information in its possession against loss, theft and unauthorized use, disclosure or modification.

6. User control
If you would like to review, correct, update, suppress or otherwise limit our use of your personal information you have previously provided directly to us, you may contact us using the contact information provided below. In your request, please make clear what information you would like to have changed, whether you would like to have your personal information suppressed from our database, or if you have other questions about your personal information. We will try to comply with your request as soon as reasonably practicable.

7. Data retention
We will retain your personal information for the period necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Privacy Policy unless a longer retention period is required or allowed by law.

Even after we have deleted your information from our systems, copies of some information from your account may remain viewable in some circumstances – where, for example, you have shared information with social media platforms and other unaffiliated services. We may also retain backup information related to your account on our servers for some time after cancelation for fraud detection or to comply with applicable law or our internal security policies. Because of the nature of caching technology, your account may not be instantly inaccessible to others, and there may be a delay in the removal of the content from elsewhere on the Internet and from search engines.

8. Sensitive information
We ask that you not send us, and you not disclose, any sensitive personal information (e.g., social security numbers, information related to racial or ethnic origin, health, or criminal background) on or through the Site or otherwise.

9. Your California Privacy Rights
If you are a resident of California, you may request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to our affiliated education companies for their direct marketing purposes. To make such a request, please write to us at:
Amplify – California Privacy Rights 55 Washington St., Ste. 900 Brooklyn, NY 11201 Attn: General Counsel

10. Contact us
If you have questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us at:
Email: privacy@amplify.com Mail: Amplify, 55 Washington St., Ste 900, Brooklyn, NY, 11201 Attn: General Counsel


My suggestion to all parents who have children in the Seattle public school system, contact your school board members and ask them what privacy protections are in place if you decide to allow your student to take Amplify.

Your school board members:

Sharon Peaslee:  sharon.peaslee@seattleschools.org

Sherry Carr:  sherry.carr@seattleschools.org

Harium Martin-Morris:  harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org

Sue Peters:  sue.peters@seattleschools.org

Stephan Blanford:  stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org

Marty McLaren:  martha.mclaren@seattleschools.org

Betty Patu:  betty.patu@seattleschools.org

Dora Taylor