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Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Can you steal from something that does not exist?

Take me on a tour of the cloud where InBloom will soon post the data attached to millions of public school students statewide.

You can’t, because it is amorphous, more a concept and a storage solution than a physical destination.

Many of us use clouds — online storage systems — in our everyday lives; Dropbox, Google Drive and the like. Even at age 74, I use Dropbox for my work and a cloud provided by Amazon.com to store photos and other items I don’t want coagulating my computer.

So, the question becomes, especially to parents whose children will have every secret of their young lives put into a cloud system by the state, can you steal from something from a cloud and, if you do, will there be retribution.

A judge in federal court says that stealing from a cloud makes on liable for damages to the victim of the theft. In a ruling in late December, Judge Robert Sweet ruled that a capitol management firm stole business information and records put onto the cloud by a wealth manager and used it for their own benefit.

The records included years of personal financial information for 12,300 of the wealth manager’s clients. The management firm argued basically that what was on the cloud was out there in public, where anybody could use it because it was on a publicly used cloud. The judge disagreed.

Which bring us to InBloom. New York State has a contract with InBloom, a non-profit company funded by reform millionaires such as Bill and Melinda Gates and that will aggregate every last piece of educational data on every student in the state —± including disciplinary records, special education evaluations, grades, attendance, teacher comments and the like — and place that information on a cloud run by the company. The state says that the cloud will be secure and that only those with authorization — school systems, teachers and parents — will have access to the cloud through “dashboards” provided for that purpose.

State officials say the information will never be sold to third parties, but admitted that there is no way to guarantee security.


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