Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Murdoch Hit With 600 New Hacking Allegations - NYSED Still Handing Over Confidential Student Data To inBloom Inc.

From The Guardian:

Detectives are examining an estimated 600 fresh allegations of phone-hacking incidents at Rupert Murdoch's now closed News of the World on the back of fresh evidence obtained by the Metropolitan police from a suspect turned supergrass.

Further details are expected to emerge on Monday morning at the high court during a hearing relating to the existing litigation by hacking victims against Murdoch's News International (NI) – hours before MPs are due to vote on joint Labour and Liberal Democrat amendments that would introduce a backstop law to stiffen regulation of the press.

Sources say Scotland Yard detectives believe they can identify as many as 600 new incidents after obtaining the phone records of an insider who is now being lined up as a crown witness. As a result of the new information, the force's Operation Weeting is revisitng the timetable for concluding its investigation, which had been due to be completed with the conclusion of trials this year. Police now expect their work to continue into 2015.

The 600 new potential litigants fall into three groups: new victims; others who sued over hacking but signed agreements with NI allowing them to sue the company again; and a third group who signed agreements potentially barring them from suing again. The indications are that there may be "some hundreds of new legal actions" from the first two groups.

Last month there was a fresh wave of arrests of former NoW executives, believed to have been prompted by the new evidence. Three men and three women were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept telephone communications between 2005 and 2006.

Information from the same supergrass also led to the arrests on Thursday of the former editor of the Sunday Mirror, Tina Weaver, and three other former colleagues who were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to hack phones. On Friday, Richard Wallace, former editor of the Daily Mirror and Weaver's partner, was interviewed by police under caution as the crisis at the Mirror Group spread.

Scotland Yard said Wallace was not arrested. So far eight former NoW staff, including former editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, face charges in relation to allegations of conspiring to hack phones.

New York and six other states are going to give a "non-profit" run in part by Rupert Murdoch called inBloom Inc. confidential student data and records- including grades, test scores, medical records, discipline issues and more:

(Reuters) - An education technology conference this week in Austin, Texas, will clang with bells and whistles as startups eagerly show off their latest wares.

But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.

In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students' information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services.


The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.

States and school districts can choose whether they want to input their student records into the system; the service is free for now, though inBloom officials say they will likely start to charge fees in 2015. So far, seven states - Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts - have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide.

Parents are alarmed by this move by states to share their children's confidential data with the edu-entrepreneurs and for-profit education companies via inBloom. 

One group - Class Size Matters - held a press conference this week to call attention to the issue:

As reported in Reuters, a company called inBloom Inc. is collecting the most private, sensitive, and personally identifiable student data from New York and other states,  storing it on a vulnerable “data cloud” and making it available to commercial vendors:
 “In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion.

As the article makes clear, this company plans to share this information “with private companies selling educational products and services.  Entrepreneurs can't wait.”   We learned from a press release that one of these for-profit companies that the state has signed up to use this data is called Escholar
The operating system for inBloom is being built by Wireless, now renamed Amplify, a subsidiary of NewsCorp owned by Rupert Murdoch and run by Joel Klein.   I was quoted about Amplify’s new tablet on NPR four days ago.
Thousands of parents have emailed the State Education Department and DOE to protest this arrangement; hundreds have sent opt-out letters without response.  One parent was told by a staffer at SED that they were too busy collecting and transmitting the data to inBloom to respond to parent concerns. My question is this:  if this is really for the benefit of public schoolchildren, why do they refuse to notify their parents or ask for their consent?

Some City Council members joined with parents to get the state to put a stop to doing business with inBloom Inc.

Unfortunately the state is going forward with this sharing of confidential data.

“The data system is to provide information to teachers to improve instruction, as well as provide access to students and parents to facilitate instruction and learning,” Silver wrote in his letter. “However, SED does not intend to allow personally identifiable student records to be used for commercial purposes.”

The hacking scandals at News Corporation newspapers continue to grow - why does Sheldon Silver or anybody else in state government, the NYSED or the Regents think it's safe to hand over confidential student data and records to a company that has hacked into hundreds of people's phones, emails, and computers in order to use that information against them or against others? 

As reported last month, there is now a second front in the News Corporation hacking scandal completely unrelated to the hacking crimes News Corporation settled last year.
There have even been allegations that News Corporation employees hacked into people here on United States soil, though so far no Murdoch employee at the NY Post, the Wall Street Journal or FOX News has been implicated in the scandal for activity they engaged in while working at those Murdoch entities.

But with civil cases still to be filed by people hacked here on U.S. soil by Murdoch employees, it is quite possible that we learn NY Post or Journal or FOX employees also engaged in criminal activity like phone or computer hacking or conspiracy to cover up such crimes.

This is especially easy to believe, given how so many of Murdoch employees moved from his British papers to his U.S. papers - including his former right hand man, Les Hinton, who became publisher of the Wall Street Journal after Murdoch bought the paper.

In all, over 100 people - many Murdoch employees or former Murdoch employees - have been arrested on hacking charges, conspiracy charges, bribery charges, or suspicion of privacy intrusion.

According the The Guardian report, police investigations of News Corporation hacking, bribery and other crimes are going to go well into 2015.

It seems insane to me that the governor, the assembly, the state senate, the NYSED and the Regents all think it's safe to hand over confidential student data and records to a "nonprofit" database created by a company owned by Rupert Murdoch and his merry band of hacking criminals.

And yet, that is what we have.

What will it take for Andrew Cuomo, Shelly Silver, Merryl Tisch, John King and others to see that inBloom Inc. needs to be shut down and that the confidential student data and records need to be protected from the edu-entrepreneurs and other vultures - especially ones working for or with the criminal News Corporation?


  1. TeachmyclassMrMayor(andyoutooMrMulgrew)March 16, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    There is no way short of a major, major scandal and lawsuit, that NYS will ever change its mind.

    1. I agree - but that doesn't mean we can't put down some markers so that when the eventual scandal does come, we can say "See, we warned you!"

  2. TeachmyclassMrMayor(andyoutooMrMulgrew)March 16, 2013 at 3:51 PM


    I understand. I agree. When this house of cards falls, it is going to fall hard. I want to see these people fall and wear orange. I would love to see a boatload of lawsuits making Mayor Napoleon have to fight off a lawsuit for every dollar he has. The rest of them as well...

    1. And I don't want to forget Randi - she's making money off this too. Randi and Bill and Rupe and Joel and Steiner and King and Tisch...