Feeling pressure from a growing number of states reversing their position on using InBloom as a repository for their students’ personal data, the company announced this eek that it will shut down.
In a statement released on the company’s website, CEO Iwan Streichenberger said:
We stepped up to the occasion and supported our partners with passion, but we have realized that this concept is still new, and building public acceptance for the solution will require more time and resources than anyone could have anticipated. Therefore, in full alignment with the inBloom Board of Directors and funders, I have made the decision to wind down the organization over the coming months. It wasn’t an easy decision, and the unavailability of this technology is a real missed opportunity for teachers and school districts seeking to improve student learning.
As of January, six states had ended their relationship with InBloom. According to the Associated Press, via The Wall Street Journal, when New York passed its state budget, a provision was included that the state was stopping its relationship with InBloom. Lawmakers were concerned that personal information might be mined, used in marketing campaigns, or misused by colleges competing for admissions.
InBloom continues to defend its privacy policies and maintains that there are other similar technologies, being offered by education companies, that are routinely used by school districts. Officers of InBloom said they would not be in involved in any data disclosures. Releasing data to third party vendors would, as always, be the sole responsibility of the districts.
As reported in a recent article from FastCompany Lab, by writer Ainsley O’Connell, New York University research professor Diane Ravitch lead a group of parents who opposed the non-profit company since it was launched by way of a $100 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Parents became uneasy about privacy issues and were concerned about possible misuse of student data. Ravitch began a campaign to avert the further development of InBloom. A flyer distributed by Ravitch was emphatic that parents should be aware of the dangers of this innovation.
Parents Beware! New York State is planning to share your child’s confidential information with private corporations. New York State has agreed to share confidential student and teacher data with a Gates-funded corporation called InBloom, Inc. All this is happening without parental consent.
Bills that would have allowed parents a right to opt-out of this risky data-sharing scheme were passed by the NYS Assembly, but not by the State Senate in the last session!
InBloom had 400 different data fields, writes Natasha Singer, reporting for The New York Times. Parents’ objections to the software were based, in part, on the “intimacy” of some of the details. When Louisiana parents became aware that their children’s social security numbers were being uploaded to InBloom, Louisiana’s legislators passed legislation to back away from the non-profit, and prohibit any such repositories to be used by their schools.
New York Education Commissioner John King stood by the company and commented that the state already collects this information.