PBC Parents Beat Back Bezos and Gates Owned Student-Athlete Data Collection Platform
After parental backlash at an August 17th school board meeting, the School District of Palm Beach County school board walked back a policy that would have required student athletes’ medical data to be submitted online through Aktivate, a digital platform connected to Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.
The policy would have given the two billionaire’s businesses access to sensitive information about minors, sparking concerns about data privacy and security.
The new method would have eliminated paper submission of information and limited facetime. According to the Palm Beach Post, the school board became aware of the deal with Aktivate and its effects in February but did not inform parents of the change until July.
There was no discussion of the issue until the August 17th School Board meeting, where many parents voiced their concerns over the new platform’s usability and lack of confidentiality.
“Unfortunately, Aktivate has clearly shown in their policy that their goal is to keep our children’s data as their own in their own terms and policies, and we don’t know for what.” one parent said
“One of the most concerning things is as a parent is that this was an 8 to 10 month process that did not include parents at all and there is absoluteley no transparency to any kind of third-vendor organization to hold this kind of data.”
The CEO of Aktivate, Hesky Kutcher, also spoke at the meeting directly after the parent, reassuring parents that Aktivate complies with all privacy laws and has more robust security than paper. However, according to the Palm Beach Post, Kutcher also said that of 21,906 athletes who had started registration, only 10,000 had completed the process. The Post reported this issue materializing last week when Pahokee High School’s football roster of 51 players had only ten cleared through Aktivate’s system, forcing practice to shut down.
When contacted to comment, Brill told Florida Jolt,
I completely support the parent’s rights to keep their children’s medical data private. No parent should ever have to provide intimate details regarding their children’s health.
One of Kutcher’s associates, referred only to as Jeff, argued that athletic directors struggling with large amounts of paperwork justified the use of Aktivate. Neither representative of Activate disputed the parent’s claim that Aktivate retained ownership of the children’s data nor proposed any increased transparency.
General Counsel Shawn Bernard, who sits on the school board, argued that parental concerns were founded on “misinformation” and said that the board was working on educating parents that Aktivate complied with privacy law.
Board Vice Chair Karen Brill suggested allowing parents to opt-out of using the platform and return to traditional paper and a physical hand-in system.
Two days later, on August 19th, a call to parents informed them that this system had been implemented.
“The district is offering parents a second option for the submission of athletic packets as a means of accommodating those families who feel more comfortable using our prior manual submission process, which was a paper submission.”
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