Archive for the ‘American freedom’ Tag

Please Call to Stop Student Privacy-Torching Bills Now   4 comments

It’s a good day to call Congress.

It’s a good week to call repeatedly.

I hope thousands will pick up their phones to call (202-224-3121) to halt the student/citizen privacy-torching bills that are now up for a vote.

 

Here’s why.

Bills that destroy privacy in the name of research are right now, quite incomprehensibly, being sponsored by Republicans Orrin Hatch, Paul Ryan, and Trey Goudy, as well as Democrat Patty Murray.

Even though public comment was overwhelmingly AGAINST the formation of a federal database on individual citizens, the bills are moving, without debate.

Missouri Education Watchdog pointed out:

“There was tremendous public opposition to the CEP Commission’s proposal to create a national student record, as stated on page 30 of the CEP report:

Nearly two-thirds of the comments received in response to the Commission’s Request for Comments raised concerns about student records, with the majority of those comments in opposition to overturning the student unit record ban or otherwise enabling the Federal government to compile records about individual students.’ ”  

Bless the dear soul of the CEP clerk who was honest enough to publish that important tidbit in the CEP’s report of public comment.  But still, the CEP ignored the public’s wishes, and now, Paul Ryan and friends plan to continue to ignore the American people and to skip the debate process that Congress is supposed to follow.

Here are the bills:

In both cases, the promotion byte for passage of the bills is the government’s desire to do “transparent” research on the people, for the people’s own good.  Congress calls this “evidence-based policymaking“.

But a stalker could call his studies evidence-gathering, too.  Without informed consent, there is no justification for evidence-gathering on individuals.  I honestly keep scratching my head as to why these representatives and senators don’t get it.  Is someone paying them to give away Americans’ rights?  Do they honestly, in their heart of hearts, not see that this is theft?

Many trustworthy sources are in a panic about this, as am I.  Read what Missouri Ed Watchdog, Education Liberty Watch, and McGroarty/Robbins have written about this:  here and here and here 
Months ago, I wrote about Ryan’s precursor, the Commission on Evidence-Based Policy (CEP) and its designs– here.
I recorded the core of what the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP) was doing, after I’d painfully viewed hours of Ryan’s CEP Commission’s public meetings that promoted the benefits (to researchers and to the government) of creating a federal database of personally identifiable, individual information.  –By the way, no mention was ever made of gaining informed consent from citizens, prior to creating that database.  Lip service was given to the idea of “ensuring” that no unauthorized citizen could hack the federal database (an impossible thing to ensure).  At the time of the Commission’s posting of that video and my writing about it, I complained that their video was not embeddable.   Today, their video’s not even there.   Still, I do have an exchange, which I had typed up on that day:
The question was asked of the Commission:

“Let me try and ask what I think is a very difficult question …  you are working to bring data from other agencies or you have…  you’ve broadened their mission and you are bringing together data from many agencies and allowing researchers in and outside of government to access the data that you’ve brought together.  What are the ways that you could expand those efforts?  Um, and I’m not suggesting that we talk about a single statistical agency across government, but how could there be more of a coordination or maybe a virtual one statistical agency where census is playing a coordinating role, or what kinds of movements in that direction should we think about?…  What are the barriers to moving toward more coordination between the statistical agencies?”

The response at 1:29 from the CEP:

“… different rules that are attached to data that are sourced from different agencies or different levels of, you know, whether it’s federal or state… that if there was broad agreement in, that, you know, if there was one law that prosc–  had the confidentiality protections for broad classes of data, as opposed to, you know, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from SSA, here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from the IRS; here’s data with pii on it that’s collected from a stateversus from a statistical agency– if data with pii on it was treated the same, you know I think that would permit, you know, organizations that were collecting pii-laden data for different purposes to make those data available more easily. Now, that’s probably a pretty heavy lift… do this in sort of baby steps as opposed to ripping the band aid. I think ripping the band-aid would probably not fly.”

 

 

 

So, months ago, Ryan’s CEP  admitted  that what it was doing would be considered unacceptable, so unacceptable that it “would probably not fly” so they ought to carefully trick the American people by moving toward such a centralized database in “baby steps”.

Yet, this week,  Ryan’s CEP has skipped its own recommended baby steps,  and is about to openly rip off more than just a band aid from the American people.

Congress is about to vote to rip off American privacy rights.

Pro-citizen-tracking Republicans and data-desperate researchers are making a bet that the American people are so asleep or confused or unconcerned, that we will say nothing while they make the theft of individual privacy justified, under new laws.

The CEP and Paul Ryan are undoubtedly good folks with research-driven intentions, butno good intention can supercede the vital importance of this basic American right: to keep personal privacy– to not be tracked, as an innocent citizen, without reason or warrant, by the government.

 

Please call and stop these bills.

Call Congress– 202-224-3121.  Or check the directory here. 

If you don’t know what to say, use this simple truth: that without individuals’ informed consent, it is theft to collect and store an innocent citizen’s personally identifiable information.  If an individual does this to another individual, it’s punishably wrong; if a government does it to individuals, even after voting itself into justification of the act, it’s still wrong.

Please call, and call, and call.  (202-224-3121)

 

 

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Stop the Bleeding: Governor Herbert’s and Rep. Bramble’s Expanding Roles Rob Voters of Any Influence   6 comments

herbert

 

Some of us have been asking Utah’s Governor Herbert to get Utah out of the NGA –National Governors Association– for years, on grounds of NGA’s unconstitutional national governing policies. But Herbert didn’t listen, nor did he quit NGA; in fact, he will ascend to its top throne –as Chairman of the National Governors Association— this summer.

People might think it could not possibly matter one way or another.  But think about it.

We didn’t elect NGA’s huge membership or staff.  We can’t fire anyone at NGA.  NGA is not a representative Congress.  NGA is not a public institution– it’s a private trade group that happens to have an official-sounding name.  That name confuses people.

So, as a private club, it’s not subject to transparency laws.  It doesn’t even have to allow investigators or media in to the closed-door meetings.  No citizen can vote to change what NGA does.  Governors can not even vote to change NGA, if they aren’t NGA members, which some very smart governors choose not to be.   Last time I checked, the governors of South Carolina, Texas, Maine, Alabama, and Indiana were staunchly determined never to join the NGA, or had joined and quit.  Yet NGA aims to make binding national policies without due process of representation — and it has already done so, in the case of Common Core, for example.

NGA is free to exist, as a private group, just like anyone.  But as a national governing body, no.  That’s unconstitutional.

Ask yourself:  will the Governor be representing Utah’s interests to the NGA, or the NGA’s interests to Utah?  In all the years he’s been a member of NGA, he’s always chosen to do what NGA asks of him.  What does that mean to us?  What happens when the goals and hopes of so many Utahns– for  greater educational liberty and local autonomy— stand in direct conflict with the history and goals of the National Governors Association?  Where is any recourse?  Where’s citizen access to NGA?

And that’s not all.  Yesterday, we saw our governor fighting to expand his job description here in Utah, too.  As the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune each discussed or reported yesterday, the Governor’s plan was (thankfully) rejected by the Utah State Board of Education after the Governor’s invited the board to join him in his call for FEDERAL legislation identifying the governor as a “key” partner in education.  Thank you, State Board, for having a spine and saying no.

The Utah Constitution says that the elected school board should hold the reins, but the NGA wants to change that situation– here and in every state– so that the NGA can assume a role as a national governing body over education.  This is bad.  This is serious.

Just as bad:  Utah Representative Curt Bramble, this year, becomes president of the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) another unaccountable-to-voters private club that, like NGA, we can accurately describe as another “aiming-to-sit-in-the-Congressional-driver’s-seat” club. In fact, Bramble admitted that his private NCSL group aims to take over the role of Congress:

“Congress has been totally ineffective. They can’t seem to find agreements on both sides of the aisle to do anything, from budget to deficit reduction, immigration, marketplace fairness. You can look down a litany of issues where the states, the 50 laboratories of democracy, are finding ways to come forward with strong, bipartisan support for various polices.”

These organizations distort voters’ rights in our Constitutionally-built nation.  The Constitution gives individual states the right to govern education.  It also gives a few Utahns, elected to represent us in D.C., strong federal roles; so voters can have real influence at both the state and national decision-making levels, if we maintain the roles of the Constitution.  This new blurring trend, pushing Governors or state legislators into pseudo-federal roles, robs us of true representation and has no business in America.

 

New York Teacher: “Bald Piano Guy” Plays Now-Viral Billy Joel Anti-Common Core Songs   Leave a comment

“Bald Piano Guy” is a New York teacher who sings “Opting Out” to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Moving Out,” and sings “Seen Them Opting Out on Broadway” to the tune of “Seen the Lights go out on Broadway”. He sings “The Arrogant Man” dedicated to NY Governor Cuomo, to the tune of “Angry Young Man”.  He has many more YouTube performances but I’ll share just a few here.

I appreciate “Bald Piano Guy”!  I also feel jealous of the passion and care that New Yorkers and parents in many other states seem to have for honest education; they seem to have many more people on the ball about fighting for their rights of liberty than we do in Utah.  While New York opt outs are angering Arne Duncan and making headlines with hundreds of thousands of opt outs, and while zero juniors showed up to take the Common Core SBAC test at Seattle High School, here in Utah, opt out numbers are low and the State Office of Education pooh-poohs the concerns, research, and even the political rights of teachers and parents.

Hats off to this teacher, who chooses to be simply:  “Bald Piano Guy”.

New York and “Bald Piano Guy,” I feel you!

Pay attention to the lyrics of the last song especially:

“Just like the Battle of Saratoga turned around the American Revolution, the revolution against standardized testing began in New York State….

I’ve seen them opting out on Broadway from Babylon to Buffalo. Parental anger up in Albany; they chased the Senators to the stop at Ramapo.

They tore the Common Core in Plattsburgh and threw the tests into Oyster Bay.

The governor lost his clout the day they opted out.

 And schools could live another day

… They slam-dunked Pearson there in Syracuse.

 They never made a truce

with children’s lives at stake.

They all refused the test in Lockport and Rockville Center rocked with rage.

Assemblymen took flight

when parents showed their might

and shredded booklets page by page.

 You know they opted out on Broadway.  But those refusals meant much more.

It’s ’cause America took note of this

and forced the government to kill the Common Core.

When parents stand up for their children

how can opponents still survive?

We’ll tell the world about

the way we opted out

and kept our public schools alive

…. Agree or disagree with opting out, the power of a parent can spark a revolution.”

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National Opt Out Movement Update:

Bob Schaeffer, of Fairtest.org in Colorado,  again provided the following links of news updates about the national opt out movement:

U.S. Opt-Out Movement Explodes, Test-and-Punish Empire Strikes Back
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-guisbond/the-testing-optout-moveme_b_7222544.html
Federal Education Department Disinformation Campaign Seeks to Quell Opt-Out Movement
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/05/06/education-dept-disinformation-aims-to-quell-opt-out.html

Arizona Seven Schools Implicated in Exam Cheating Scandal
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2015/05/11/did-seven-schools-in-arizona-cheat-on-high-stakes-tests-and-is-it-really-only-seven

California
Standardized Testing Sparks Backlash
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/california-standardized-tests-spark-backlash-in-oakland/Content?oid=4269257

Colorado
Legislature Passes Modest Assessment Reform “Compromise” in Final Hours of Session
http://co.chalkbeat.org/2015/05/06/testing-agreement-comes-in-sessions-final-hours/#.VUqwtEZLUZw

Connecticut
Officials Confuse Parents About Test Opt Outs
http://jonathanpelto.com/2015/05/06/on-common-core-sbac-still-left-asking-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-these-people/

Delaware
House Overwhelmingly Supports Opt-Out Rights
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2015/05/07/house-passes-testing-opt-legislation/70966896/

Florida
Ongoing Computer Testing Programs Disrupts School Schedules
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-computer-testing-schools-20150505-story.html
Florida Elected Officials Don’t Subject Their Own Kids to the Standardized Exam Frenzy They Mandate
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-school-testing-scott-maxwell-20150507-column.html

Georgia
Exams Leave Some Feeling “Testy”
http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/26615357/article-Georgia-Voices–Exams-have-some-feeling-testy
Atlanta Test Cheating Hurt Students’ Reading Performance
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/District_Dossier/2015/05/atlanta_schools_test-cheating_.html

Louisiana
Testing Overkill Drives Veteran Teachers Out of the Profession
http://www.katc.com/story/29029794/lack-of-education-veteran-educators-walk-away-from-the-profession

Massachusetts
Teachers Say PARCC Test is “Bar to Real Work”
http://www.cambridgeday.com/2015/05/06/teachers-renew-efforts-against-parcc-test-as-bar-to-real-work-student-has-other-way-to-reduce-stress/
Mass. Teachers Association Supports Parental Opt-Out Rights
http://massteacher.org/news/archive/2015/annual_meeting_coverage.aspx

Maine Legislature Hears Bill to Eliminate Smarter Balanced Test
http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/education/2015/05/11/state-test-bills/27136703/

Michigan
District Super and PTA President Outline Five Ways to Improve State Assessments
http://www.mlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/05/5_ways_to_improve_standardized.html

Mississippi
Educators Protest Politically Set Test-Score Cutoff That Could Hold Back 6,000 Third Graders
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/07/nearly-6k-could-repeat-third-grade/70947606/

Montana
State Testing Will Not Come Close to 95% Participation
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/5/montana-unlikely-to-meet-test-participation-requir/

New Hampshire
Parents on a Mission
http://www.ledgertranscript.com/home/16720744-95/parents-on-a-mission

New Jersey
Students Share Thoughts on PARCC
http://www.app.com/story/news/education/in-our-schools/2015/05/08/students-parcc/26980093/

New York
English Language Arts Test Opt Outs Topped 205,000 Statewide
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/t2_8Bg3h8mqx6Ax8rwGG5Mw/htmlview
N.Y. Educators Have Lengthy Grievance List Against State Assessments
http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/233549/educators-have-lengthy-grievance-list-about-evaluations/

North Dakota Computerized Testing Glitches Hurt Students
http://www.grandforksherald.com/opinion/our-opinion/3742822-our-opinion-testing-glitches-hurt-students-common-core

Ohio Super Says K-3 Literacy Test Scores Are Unfair
http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/local-education/literacy-scores-unfair-springfield-superintendent-/nmCYZ/

Oklahoma
School Testing Error Affecting Thousands of Students
http://www.newson6.com/story/28985864/oklahoma-school-testing-error-affecting-thousands-of-students

Pennsylvania Overhaul of Federal, State Laws Needed to Curb Testing Frenzy
http://thenotebook.org/blog/158537/nclb-rewrite-relieve-standardized-testing-abuse-opt-out-frenzy
Pennsylvania Keystone Exams Are One Big Headache for Students
http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-lehigh-valley-keystone-project-based-assessments-20150509-story.html#page=1

Texas Governor Signs Law Exempting Thousands of Seniors From Graduation Exams
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20150511-abbott-signs-bill-exempting-thousands-of-high-school-seniors-from-graduation-exams.ece

Vermont
Testing is Profitable But Not for Students
http://www.vnews.com/home/16811190-95/steve-nelson-testing-is-profitable-but-not-for-students

Virginia
Parents Learn How to Keep Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests
http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2015/05/06/in-a-season-of-testing-how-to-avoid-them/70901846/
Virginia is Sadly Obsessed With State Testing
http://www.newsleader.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/05/09/sadly-obsessed-sols/27062009/

Washington
Students Protest Common Core Exams
http://www.keprtv.com/news/local/Students-protest-Common-Core-testing-302683131.html
Maryville, Washington, Teachers Hold One-Day Strike Over Funding, Testing
http://www.marysvilleglobe.com/news/302779281.html#

Wisconsin State Legislature Advances Bill to Make Opting Out Easier
http://www.twincities.com/education/ci_28068256/wisconsin-bill-would-make-opting-out-school-tests

Contact U.S. Senators for Less Testing, More Learning
http://www.fairtest.org/roll-back-standardized-testing-send-letter-congres

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As I’ve said before, please be wise and very careful about what happens in each of our states as a replacement for high stakes testing.  The controlistas love to take a crisis and turn it to their own advantage.

In Utah we are on another brink of doing something exceedingly stupid right now:  Utah’s legislature has created a task force that will promote the idea of stealth assessment, or embedded, hidden tests in assignments.  This absolutely kills privacy and kills parents’ ability to opt out or even to know when tests are happening at all.  Think I’m kidding?  Rep. Marie Poulson’s resolution passed this last legislative session.  See line 66 and ask your legislator exactly what it means.  

Data Collection is Out of Control   1 comment

     Yes, the data collection push is out of control.

Data collection issues and privacy rights were the last thing on my mind, until last April, when I learned what Common Core was (besides educational standards that are communizing America’s education).  When I learned that common core tests gather kids’ data that is nonacademic, personally identifiable, and longitudinal –meaning it goes from preschool through adulthood and is tracked by the government and researchers who will not need permission to study it– I was horrified.  But the data collection desperation of agencies worldwide, continues.  For example:

 

  • Just this morning I got an email from a company that contracts with a company I work with to translate foreign documents.  They wanted to purchase –in any language– full blogs, full email accounts, and other writings, for a secret client that they said needs a lot of data to practice a new spellchecker.  Nuts!  (I’ll post the full “job” email* at the bottom.)
  • This week, I learned about a German man, Malte Spitz, now an international data privacy freedom fighter.  Here’s part of his story (for full text:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/malte-spitzs-ted-talk-_n_1701775.html   )

    In 2006, the EU issued the Data Retention Directive, Directive 2006/24/EC. This allowed European phone companies to store user data for six months to two years — including phone numbers, addresses, the times emails and data were sent, as well as users’ locations. Since then, several countries have either rejected or declared unconstitutional this legislation. In 2010, Germany’s Federal Constitution Court suspended the directive, calling it “inadmissable.”

The directive does state that the content of users’ text and voice conversations are not to be stored.

Police agencies could request information from mobile phone companies to access user data, but only via the court system.  Spitz filed a suit against his phone company Deutsche Telekom in order to receive his own stored data.

After reaching a settlement, Spitz received a CD of his records in the mail. “At first I thought, okay — it’s a huge file,” he said, “But then I realized, this is my life. This is six months of my life […] You can see where I am, when I sleep at night, what I’m doing.”

  • Then there’s Joanne Weiss, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Dept. of Education, who openly admits to “data-mashing,” meaning blending the databases from different federal agencies.  She also has said she wants to be helpful to states who want to “partner” and share data.
  • Then there’s John Brandt, our Utah Technology Director, CCSSO chair, and NCES member (translation: he’s a fed).  He openly admist on his powerpoint online, that the Dept. of Education can be one of the recipients of Utah’s inter-agency data mashing.
  • Then there’s “Communities that Care,” a nice-sounding euphemism for a federal lure to give up local data via a program that on the surface, is all about preventing teen drug use and crime.  But it’s also a way for the federal government to access what we are thinking, both via ongoing youth surveys, and via archived family and individual data kept by the city.
  • My own doctor said that he was offered thousands to share data with the government about his patients.  He opted not to accept the money because he believes in patient privacy.

    Why are governments so desperate to gather so much private data on citizens?  So desperate that they’re overriding Congressional FERPA laws, so desperate that they’re cutting out parental consent.

 

To read more about this topic:

Department of Education Being Sued for Invasion of Privacy:   http://epic.org/apa/ferpa/default.html

Oregon Senator’s Website:  http://www.merkley.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=457f640a-2995-49c4-b386-27ca44c639a8

Federal Surveillance of data via Common Core tests: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

TrapWire Surveillance:  http://thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/12473-trapwire-the-federal-govt-is-literally-watching-every-move-you-make  http://thenewamerican.com/tech/item/12635-trapwires-alleged-corporate-and-government-connections-grow

SmartMeter Opt-Out: http://thenewamerican.com/tech/energy/item/12344-privacy-and-health-concerns-on-%E2%80%9Csmart-meters%E2%80%9D-growing-globally

 

 

*Job email:

Hi

Many thanks for your interest in our program and for providing your experience in translation. Unfortunately we are not looking for a translation service at present; however, as mentioned in our advert we are collecting many versions of data on behalf of a client of ours. This data will be used to assist them in the development of their language tools. If this is something which you think you can assist us in, then please review the details below.

Below you will find some frequently asked questions which will provide you with more data on the program. Please read carefully to check if your language is available.

Note: We are only accepting languages which are available on the list at present.

We aim to collect a large amount of data for each language, so we hope we can collect a minimum of 150,000 words from each person participating. If you think you can reach this number, please let us know. If not, then please continue to save your data and contact us again in the near future.

Unfortunately everyone who contacts us may not be able to join this program, however, if you do know of someone that has their language included, please pass our information to them. We encourage all people to review their language / data.

On reading the FAQ, please reply and let us know what type of data / language you can provide to our program. We can then work on the collection process.

Please note, we do allow participants to donate more than one language if available.

We look forward to working with you.

Kind Regards, Lionbridge Data Collection Group

——————————————————————————————————————————————

FAQ Questions:

1)      What languages are available?         In our program we are now looking for the following languages: English UK, English US, Basque, Bulgarian, Croatian, Estonian, Finnish, Galician, Hungarian, Kazakh, Lithuanian, Romanian, Serbian (Latin and Cyrillic), Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Arabic (Standard), Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese European, Spanish European, Swedish, Indonesian, Latin American Spanish, Danish and Thai.

2)      What if my language is not on the list?         We are beginning with the languages listed above. However, we may begin collecting for your language in the future. Please begin to save your emails / reports etc. Also, you may know of a friend / colleague who may be able to join now. If so, then pass on our information to them.

3)      Who gets my data?         We are collecting all data in conjunction with a client who requires a large amount of words to help develop their language tools e.g. spellchecker. No other party will have access to your data

4)      What data can I include? a.      Email – you can include personal emails which you have written in your own language b.      Reports – If you are at college, you can include draft reports which you have written for college (i.e. these are the first writings of your reports, not the   final   delivered version to your lecturer). If you are a journalist, you can include drafts of articles you have written. Note draft articles should contain both grammar and  spelling mistakes i.e. they are not proof read. c.      Letters – any letters which you have written in your native language d.      Blogs – If you have created a blog and write regular updates, this could be included.

5)      If I send email, what happens if I include personal email?         Once you send us your email, we will first change all of the email addresses and numbers to xyz@xyz.com <mailto:xyz@xyz.com> and 000 to remove any      personal identification. Your name / signature however will remain on the email if included.

6)      Can I use any email account?         Yes you can use most email accounts which can be setup either on the internet or at home. Note we are having some issues with exporting from yahoo.

7)      How much data to I need to send you?         We are looking to collect 600,000 words from each person; however we understand that this is a lot of data for one person. Therefore to assist you we are willing to receive as low as 150,000 words: –       On average 2,000 emails. –       200 pages

8)      What if I do not have enough data?         Don’t worry if you don’t have enough data right now. You can begin to save your data and join our program at a later date. Also, remember, if you have emails and reports, you can join both to reach the required number. We can help you with this.

9)      How long do I have to collect the data?         We appreciate it can take time to get this detail together and to assist you we will be providing step by step instructions. This program is running until September 30th 2012.

10)     Do I get paid for my data?         Yes you do! For every 100,000 words you send to us, we will pay you $110.

11)     How do I know my data is secure?         On acceptance of your data, you will sign a data release form to say that our client can now use your data. No other party will have access to your data.

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