How Universities and Colleges Spy On Student Devices
A student’s life is not an easy one. Attending classes, working on papers, homework, and trying to make a living away from home is a demanding endeavor. Use of campus Wi-Fi, borrowing laptops, and participating in 1 to 1 programs are just some of the ways in which students cut their expenses. However, did you ever think that there might be a school spying on students with laptops that are borrowed? Below, we’ll show you some examples where students’ right to privacy was violated. And we’re not only talking about college students, but high school kids as well.
The Rhode Island Scandal
A lot of schools in Rhode Island district participate in 1 to 1 programs in which students loan a laptop provided by a third-party for the duration of a school year. This is a great deal for students that can’t afford their own devices. However, there is a catch. Most schools that take part in 1 to 1 programs have the ability to remotely access these devices even when the kids aren’t at school. Monitoring student’s activity in the classroom is one thing. However, accessing a device while the students are at home, sleeping, or doing anything else that’s not related to school is simply a violation of trust and constitutional rights to privacy.
American Civil Liberties Union recently published a report that speaks about a notorious breach of privacy in case of a Harrington High School sophomore, Blake Robins, who participated in 1 to 1 school program. The program allowed young Blake to use the laptop at home for personal activities, which meant, Blake could comfortably play video games, write essays for money, or enjoy Netflix with his friends. The program also allowed him to give access to his parents if they needed to use the device. But, it also allowed the school district officials remote access and control over the laptop resources. And that’s where things got weird.
According to the report, school officials took dozens of photos of Blake while the kid was sleeping. Furthermore, it shows that the school also took screenshots of the desktop and accessed the student’s emails and browsing history. After being sued by the family, the school district was barred from using remote access for such purposes. However, the damage had already been done. The officials admitted to having created more than 50 thousand screenshots of different students for the duration of the program.
Another instance of schools spying on students is the case of Evan Neill, a senior at Harrington High. Evan also participated in 1 to 1 program for two years in a row from 2009 – 2010. The program allowed the use of a computer at home for personal use as well as for sociology research proposal topics, and other forms of research for homework or research papers. Because of this, Evan often used the laptop around his home. The school publicly admitted that they took dozens of photos using the laptop camera, as well as multiple screenshots of the desktop and turning on the tracking system to keep track of Evan’s whereabouts.
College Invasion of Privacy
High schools invading students’ privacy can be viewed as a stepping stone to college abuse of trust and device usage monitoring. Until recently, many colleges used federal student aid forms to check if the college applicant has applied to some other institution. However, that practice is now not possible after the National Association for College Admission Counseling barred college members from performing such inquiries. However, this is not the end of student privacy issues when it comes to college member behavior.
As most students apply to more colleges at once and then cherry-pick the best options, this places a concern for low-rank institutions as they have a harsh competition to combat with for new applicants. Therefore, many colleges peak into browsing history, social media, and other online data to bombard potential applicants with customized messages. This is an alarming practice, as students ‘online privacy’ is not necessarily something that colleges should look into, especially if they are not enrolled yet.
As we can see, a lot of academic institutions utilize all kinds of tools in order to invade students’ privacy. The problem with this practice is not in making sure that the students are not performing any illegal activities. Monitoring minors while they sleep, taking photos of their homes, and turning on microphones to record private conversations is more of a spy movie plot than educational activity. Moreover, peaking into one’s browsing history to determine if you’re going to accept a certain student or financial aid application is not a fair method of evaluation.
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About The Author:
Michael Turner is a freelance content writer dedicated to writing articles concerning college and high school student lifestyle. Michael publishes his work through some of the most respectful online publishers to a wide array of readers. Most of his work is also available to his followers across various social media platforms.