Distance learning security issue after threatening strangers to breach online classrooms during lockdown
Ms Wolf said the directory contained 278,233 email addresses and inappropriately disclosed her child’s personal information. She said the slow response from the ministry to her complaint meant the children were at risk for an extended period of time.
“Someone has to be held accountable in the Department of Education,” said Ms. Wolf.
A number of parents and schools raised concerns during the year about Google Classroom, according to Freedom of Information documents.
One parent called the directory a “privacy and security nightmare,” containing “everyone’s full names, photos, if available, and a direct mechanism for contacting that student.”
One school said it was concerned that teachers’ emails would be visible, writing, “We already have a parent emailing a teacher directly. “
Cyber security expert Susan McLean said most parents accept the use of digital platforms without understanding the risk. “Parents need to question the use of a lot of these apps and platforms and ask these kinds of questions,” she said.
Kylie Auld, the department’s director of knowledge, privacy and records, told the Victoria Information Commissioner’s office that the directory was originally created for inter-school collaboration, but the department was moving on. to a school-specific repertoire model, to be completed by the end. from June of last year.
The promised transition did not take place until April of this year. The single directory still exists, but can now be seen only by teachers.
Google said its education platform uses anti-abuse measures such as 10-character meeting codes and gives teachers control over whether external participants can participate in video meetings.
Following the incidents in April and August, the education ministry immediately took action to address the issues, a spokeswoman said.
“It involved extensive work with the technology provider, which is still ongoing,” she said.
“In the meantime, the department has disabled the G Suite directory for students so that students can no longer search and find other users in the G Suite directory.”
In a response to the Information Commissioner’s office in Victoria, Ms Auld said that email addresses had been created for students to allow them to access apps used for classroom work, but that the option sending or receiving e-mails was disabled by default. The system has also been configured to block e-mails sent to or from people outside the ministry directory.
However, FOI documents show that an external email was able to reach a student distribution list in April of last year.
This story is co-edited with The Citizen, a publication of the Center for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne.
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