Education data surveillance - the perverts eyeballing your children through a monitor aren't who you're expecting

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When one thinks of public education, safety from prying eyes typically comes to mind, however, in recent years, the prying eyes haven't been "creepy men offering candy to your child," now they are "impoverished 'content moderators' sitting behind a monitor somewhere in the USA." Firms such as Gaggle have been looking at the private lives of students, albiet on school-issued devices, where no right to privacy should be assumed, ever. However, aside from the understandable flagging content such as pornography (or as the article states, hentai), erotica, and suggestive web searches (these things should be filtered at the DNS level anyways, since a solution like Cisco Meraki should be far more privacy-respecting, and will block this content altogether once configured) this sort of tracking regime also monitors filenames (so a document titled, say, 'suicidenote.doc' will be flagged and made viewable to administrators; this monitoring also likely includes image content) for so-called 'harmful' content, which ultimately opens Pandora's box.

Without a question, if a school is government funded, they should have to abide by the constitution (as established in Tinker v. Des Moines, students do have the right to self-express in a public school in the USA), so should it be reasonable to hold them up to the 4th amendment? I say 'yes,' as they are a governmental organization. They might claim that the "terms of service" or "device lease agreement" (or whatever term they use) implies their right to searches and no right to privacy, however, with how many schools are apparently giving devices to younger, and younger children, I doubt that a decent portion of them can fully understand the terms of service, and I doubt that beyond a certain age a parent's signature would be enough to relieve the student of liability.

On expression, I do believe that digital files do constitute expression. This article is constitutionally protected speech and expression (as to whether Neocities decides this is suitable for their hosting service is up to them, as they are a private entity), any images possibly attached fall under the same protections, too. In a similar vein, if I were an American public school student, they would have to let me, for example, wear a safetypin on my coat to show solidaridy with victims of xenophobia, wear a cross if I were a Christian, and let me take prayer breaks if I followed a religion that mandated them. Of course, this is all within reason; if a man was carrying around a Nazi flag, that would bother people, and that would not be tolerated, and that I understand. Your rights end where others' begin, this is well-known in society (although some people think others somehow constitute a part of them).

Back to surveillance, any sensible parent who saw someone peering into their child's private life would probably send the predator to the morgue (or at least the ICU) swiftly, so why do these firms get away with it? Anyone who drills the school board (and isn't immediately thrown out for 'fringe views') should know precisely who and what is handling their child's data. In a sense, I think these firms get away with it because their contracts are hidden behind a monitor-- however, why should that stop parents and students from defending themselves? Most school-issued systems run Windows (or Chrome OS, which is a complete lost cause), which can be easily reinstalled to remove district-sanctioned spyware (and, even better, outfitted with a VPN or privacy-respecting DNS server, to block network filtering); or, even better, simply teaching students not to use school-issued (or employer-issued later on) equipment for personal tasks.

To conclude, I think the main takeaway from this should be that the threat isn't an outside factor, its inside the system, with administrators selling data out to malicious firms, and people on the outside remaining uneducated on the matter. Remember, people, its always a good idea to drill your elected officials until they cough up answers, after all, they get paid with your money.

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