Saturday, December 05, 2009

Why Does Honeywell Have My Child in a Database?

Why did my daughter's school give Honeywell, a huge corporation, her information to put into a database without letting me know first?

After the school announced a snow day Friday morning, I went to my daughter's school district website to see if I could get a text message for future snow days. That's a convenient feature.

I found a link on the school district website for an instant alert. I followed the link and found that they had outsourced the job to Honeywell.

Okay, I guess that's how we do things these days. Fine. Whatever.

I signed up for the service because I suppose like many people, I've been conditioned to accept this sort of thing, but afterward realized that I was required put my child's information into Honeywell's web page to VERIFY I was the parent.

I had mistyped the first time I filled out the form, and had received an error: this means they already had the correct information about my child in their database. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to use the information to VERIFY I had any business being there.

That's right; they already have the information even if you don't sign up for the alert service. Try putting a mistake into the website form and it returns an error message. That means they already have the CORRECT information on every child in our district. And check the drop-down to see the list of school districts all over America that have signed up. Some states do not use the service.

I believe many Americans today have been conditioned to accept this kind of casual treatment of their information, and the idea of "privacy" has become a joke, but this really hit home. Honeywell, which I have no problem with really (I haven't investigated enough...yet), is a very large company. And somewhere in their massive collection of servers (I assume) sits information on both of my children (when I verified one daughter, I had both of my daughters listed in my shiny new Honeywell Instant Alert account).

This is what bothers me most: why did the school district send this information to a huge private company without telling anyone? I found no "opt out" button anywhere on any of these sites.

Maybe the notice from the school about this program came in the mountain of papers they send home with our children every year. Maybe I missed it. Was the notice in some paragraph on their website I never read? Did we as parents have a chance to say, "no, don't send my child's information to this private company"?

And how much has the school paid for what is basically an email and text message service? I looked up a few news stories about Honeywell's Instant Alert service. Other districts around the country have paid between $1500.00 and $4000.00. I work with computers for a living and there are plenty of tech companies in our county that could have done this. Why not keep the money local?

Well, it is probable that no one will read this, and if they do, it is likely they won't care. I've done my part. This letter is the only stink I'm going to raise. Let us all go back to ignoring the Corporatization of every aspect of our lives. Happy Holidays everybody!

Extra Credit:

See if Honeywell, a giant corporation, has your child's information. Remember, the info is ALREADY in Honeywell's databases if your district signed up for this service:

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About Me

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I am the author of 5 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, The Cubicles of Madness, Robot Stories, and most recently, Various Meats and Cheeses. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at