back to article Privacy folk raise alarm over schools snooping on kids' online habits

Privacy activists have called for more transparency and parental control over web monitoring in British schools after a survey indicated that almost half track their students online. Defend Digital Me, a children's privacy campaign group, teased (PDF) the survey's findings – which will be published in full in its State of Data …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Privacy? What's that?

    Even in school, on school computers, children have a reasonable expectation of personal privacy.

    That doesn't mean no rules or restrictions. I would expect school computers to block certain websites (or even only to allow certain websites) - but it should be intelligent blocking, i.e. allowed to access

    Recording and reviewing (and blocking?) certain search terms is legit.

    But individual searches and websites shouldn't be recorded and linked to individuals. A person in school may be wanting to find out how to treat a medical condition, but that's no justification for the school to butt in. If they want the school to know and give advice, they'll ask. If searches about dealing with bullying are showing up, then deal with it as a general problem, not something unique to the individual searching.

    1. Lee D

      Re: Privacy? What's that?

      Sorry, but the various child protection laws MANDATE that schools deploy this technology.

      Until you resolve that conflict, schools are required to do this. Whether or not you, or they, like it. And I tell you now - your schools do it. All of them. Without it, their governors would go mad, and the DoE would be informed and it would be a "start shutting them down" kind of issue. Private or state. Primary or secondary.

      And it's been that way for 20 years.

      How do I know? I've only ever worked as a school IT guy (consultant, freelance, technician, manager) for those 20 years.

      Sorry, but we're required to do it by laws that give us no other choice but to do so. Even down to SSL interception. And now, with anti-terror legislation, we're also required to flag on any keywords that might indicate someone being groomed for terror-related acts, etc. It's encoded in that legislation that we record everything they do online and flag for keywords, and that we do the same for staff too.

      P.S. that means the IT guy also has access to every pupil and staff's private sessions, including personal banking etc. if it's conducted via school computers. We push wildcard certificates for interception as part of standard images, on managed devices etc. If you don't like it, you have no option but to not work in a school or send your children to one (no, you can't ask that they opt out of the IT either... it's required for everything from assessment to reporting to having them do anti-terror online tests!).

      If you don't like it, keep your school Internet usage to nothing more than that required for the school. Whether you're a student or a teacher. We have absolutely no interest in your Facebook page, but we are unfortunately required to log, report and respond if you browse a Facebook page that talks about "chatting with kids" or "blowing stuff up" or anything even vaguely miscontruable by a computer to be related to child protection or terrorism.

      I'm afraid you're at least 20 years too late. And, no, GDPR won't stop it. It just means that we'll have to tell you about it, like we already have to. It's a legal requirement for every IT department in every school in the country.

      Real-life example from before Christmas - a Year 8 pupil saying "I want to kill myself" on the Internet. You can't anonymise that past the extent it already is (i.e. only IT, the senior staff, their form tutor, their parents, the medical personnel, etc. have to know about it and who it was).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Privacy? What's that?

        ...I was in the process of wondering what I felt about it all.....then I read this and I guess the debate was had and is now over, and I missed it.

        My kids schools certainly haven't mentioned this, at least not in this way, although I will admit they may have used some BS words that sounded all a bit bland and I just ignored when I signed some bit of paper.


      2. israel_hands

        Re: Privacy? What's that?

        @Lee D

        From what you've said it sounds like it's overall a "good" tool and the idea of flagging certain keywords, restricting/blocking others isn't automatically a massive invasion of privacy. The example you gave is exactly the sort of safety net this sort of thing should be used for,

        My issue (and yours too, by the sounds of it) is that it's too much of a blanket demand without anyone with any technical knowledge involved in constructing the details of the demand itself.

        It also leaves open the option of massive amounts of abuse if, for instance, an under-funded school (aren't they all?) in a rough area (socio-economically deprived, in trade-talk) ends up with a "creepy IT guy" who then abuses it. To what could quite easily be a horrific level (think of a cross between the Rotherham stuff and that guy who compromised-then-blackmailed kids into committing abhorrent acts and got nailed for it recently).

        It's all about balance really, and unfortunately our current (and many prior) governments and both mentally and morally unbalanced.

        You're bang-on about GDPR not stopping it either, as much as I champion the intent behind it and (hopefully) its execution there are some worrying loopholes. Governments can add in their own exemptions for specific cases and there's no chance of something that uses a demonised vision of the internet combined with think-of-the-children rhetoric getting overturned.

        However, I'm fairly sure I'm correct in thinking that the current law doesn't mandate biometrics and I can still kick up a royal stink about it should my kid's school try and impose it. And I certainly won't let them monitor anything emanating from my house or a device I'm responsible for. That being said, BYOD is for fools and I'd have to strongly question any school that hopes letting a host of variously malware-infected devices onto their network, not to mention enterprising script-kiddies/proto-hackers looking to demonstrate their chops and build some notoriety.

        EDIT: To directly contradict what I said above about such tools in schools being broadly a good thing (albeit with a list of caveats longer than my unusually-generous manhood):

        The entire PREVENT strategy is among the most ill-targeted, segregationist and fear-mongering policies I've ever fucking laid eyes on.

      3. GruntyMcPugh

        Re: Privacy? What's that?

        Mandated, indeed.

        I worked in junior schools as the IT guy for a while, and we used 'Policy Central' keyword capture, and Capita web filtering. I know one child and his family were on an extremism watch list, and the child had searched for various terms related to that at school.

        So this article is a non story, the stats not being 100% are just down to staff not knowing what's going on, but as you say, it has to be done, so it is done.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Privacy? What's that?

        Approximately same situation in the Ubiquitous Surveillance land of America. I know this from experience as a school board member and as a parent. I was actually called and informed that my son had received email containing profanity from a sender outside the school domain. It was harmless banter about an online game. I'm referring to a student who was 16 years old at the time.

        So 1984 arrived approximately on time, and we've accepted it like the proverbial boiling frog. Meanwhile, not a week goes by without multiple school shootings. Our approach to this all is obviously fucked up.

    2. VMeldrew

      Re: Privacy? What's that?

      As a manager of a school computer system, we HAVE to track individual students web history or we fail Ofsted and the law. We legally have to check for material that could be linked to terrorism and report it to the authorities.

      1. Lee D

        Re: Privacy? What's that?

        @israel_hands: Agree with pretty much all you say.

        Biometrics, however, don't have specific legislation that I'm aware of. They are just captured as "personal data" the same as everything else. Personally, I object to (and therefore don't work with) biometric systems (from a security point of view, because you can't change the biometric if it's made public and it's easy to forge them enough to fool any sensibly-priced reader) but many, many schools have them for canteen, library, etc. Fingerprint is the most common and, no, they don't need specific permission, they can cover it in the blanket school agreements. Again, that ship has already sailed and there's not much we can do about it. I also object on the grounds that, in theory, the police would be within their rights to request and use that data for law enforcement (i.e. "We know it was one of your kids, but we don't have their fingerprint data.... but you do...").

        The best defence I have is that I went to the BETT exhibition and interrogated all the major biometric vendors, and, for the age of children that I cater for, biometrics are regarded as being nearly useless - too much growth and change in their bodies means constant re-registering and high false-readings. Most companies said "Anyone under 9, don't bother" or words to that effect and I work in a prep school which goes up to age 13, so half our kids wouldn't be able to use it.

        We don't do BYOD (that's just stupid, you can't secure random third-party devices without specifying models and then "supervising" them, so it's not really "Bring" your own, so much as "Buy" your own) but we do issue mobile devices that some kids take home. When they are used at home, yes, they can talk back to us. And we can track them, trace them, lock them down and switch them off if required. I strictly control access to such functions, we would never do it on a whim, but other places may not be so secure in their policies. However, if you use a device at home, it's on your wifi with our system. We don't have 3G/4G devices (that's just stupid, though you can do something called Global Proxy which means it uses the school filter for ANY CONNECTION wherever it happens to join the Internet) but in theory we can push apps, and we can also get GPS traces.

        Some schools that I'm aware of also push camera-monitoring apps (at least in theory), keyboard- and screen-logging apps, etc. They are suites of software especially for that for schools (I have thus far refused to deploy them). If the kids are taking those home...

        One more example: A child had an allocated school iPad. They took it on holiday to the US. They phoned us to tell us that they thought it was lost or stolen. We locked the device and had it report its GPS location. Turned out that it was half-way across the Atlantic when we asked it to check-in. It had been used on the plane (therefore presumably connected to Wifi) and therefore reported back it's location, and we watched it fly over the ocean over a series of hours. It was found when the plane was empty and the pilot had noticed it was security marked, so he decided to take it in the cockpit with him on his return journey and drop it back to the school. Fact is, we knew that before the child or parent did.

        It's scary stuff. But the alternative is no technology in schools (which may not be a bad thing, but it's never going to happen, and it would put children at a detriment while ANY OTHER school allows it). If we have tech that's going to be wireless, Internet-connected, etc. and mandate that children have to use it (Google Classroom, etc.) then we have to lock it down (for their protection, and for theft-protection). There's no reason for such tech to be generic off-the-shelf hardware and Internet-connected to the wide web, but it is. As a school IT guy, my job has morphed from "control these locally connected machines that you have full power over" to "control these devices that are tagged with the child's name, advertise their location, and connect to the school database with all their personal details." The scope for misuse is enormous.

        There have been, and no doubt will be, a point where as a professional I refuse to implement more measures like this, even if that involves a change of career. But parent objections? So far zero. They are statistically infinitely more likely to complain that "the wifi is schools is microwaving my child's brain" (while having a mobile phone strapped to their head 24 hours a day themselves). Nobody has ever yet mentioned, or objected to, the technical monitoring measures involved. In fact, they ask to MAKE SURE we have them and complain about the slightest thing their darling child is able to find that they disapprove of. They object to the cost. They object to the hassle (taking the device back and forth, charging, etc.). They object to the "blue light" nonsense. They object to the destruction of traditional pen and paper. They object to the device or filter not functioning correctly for a fraction of a second.

        But out of literally TENS OF THOUSANDS of parents that I've dealt with professionally, not one has ever raised an objection about a clearly-stated policy on monitoring of all their child's school-internet and school-device activities. *I* have. But not a single parent.

        I remember in a private school rolling out compulsory iPads (not my choice!) like this and then charging the parents for them on their annual bill. The only objection came from two sets of parents (out of 500+) who came to an induction meeting we held on it. That objection? "Well, you'll still be setting them homework on paper, won't you, we don't want them losing the ability to hold pen and paper!" (that's an entire other rant in itself, though).

        And when nobody objects to that kind of thing, it becomes the norm (as it has done) and then it becomes too late to object because "all the other schools do it". Sadly, it may take an incident such as you hint at (some IT guy mis-using it to groom children or similar, God forbid) to actually make people take notice.

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Privacy? What's that? @Pen-y-gors and other school IT commenters

      Thanks for your input, folks. Mrs IP and myself are currently trying to decide where to send the IP-lings to school. Home schooling has been at the top of the list for a while, partly because of the whole surveillance thing, but your input has just made it an almost certainty.

      The State has become malignant over the past 20 years, hasn't it?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a plot …

    … to make kids find out how to use VPNs. Certainly my kids have made it their business to know, and they didn't learn from me. Not that even a VPN would help with some of the intrusive stuff described …

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's a plot …

      … to make kids find out how to use VPNs. Certainly my kids have made it their business to know, and they didn't learn from me. Not that even a VPN would help with some of the intrusive stuff described …

      It's a good start though. Hope next that they'll learn about Tor, browser footprint randomization, geospoofing and WebRTC.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Much easier to get a robot ...

    to monitor children than for adults (teachers in this case) to know what the kids in their charge are up to.

    What kids need is to trust adults and be confident enough that they will seek guidance Adults should spend time with them, adults should get to know and care for them -- and the kids be aware that they are being cared for. A computer is not a substitute for that.

    Also: kids will get up to a little mischief, and have done so for millennia, it is good for them to push boundaries, to explore as they get older. Feel the consequences of going too far. What about the perve from the Internet I hear people say -- that is what you need to build adult/child trust for -- so that the adult will get to know and so react/guide in what is really a relatively rare situation.

    Sexting: education as to why it is a bad idea, then support/admonishment when it does happen. Making criminals out of kids for this is over the top.

    Bullying: this is not new, on-line bullying is just a development, just as when kids stopped using slates and started using paper in the classroom.

    Naughty pictures on the Internet ? A natural curiosity. 'No' is not the answer (& impossible to achieve), but educate the differences between sex & relationships, romance & love. Not new anyway -- in my day it was smuggled copies of Playboy.

    All of the above need adults (teachers & parents) to spend time with kids, get to know them.

    The trouble with a solicitor driven risk averse society is that kids are not allowed to be kids.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Much easier to get a robot ...

      "What kids need is to trust adults and be confident enough that they will seek guidance"

      And that is the core of it all. Trust. Privacy is a huge issue now because of the lack of trust and erosion of privacy by everyone involved from Google to Government and every shady operation in between slurping data.

      People who see what's going on, such as the technically minded people who read here, see privacy and it's erosion as an issue because we can't trust $org to hold the data properly, safely, only what is needed for purpose and to delete it when the purpose is no longer served. We know they can't be trusted and so we scream about privacy. Privacy becomes much less of an issue when data is not grabbed willy nilly and then "lost" to bad actors every week,

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Much easier to get a robot ...

      We geeks tend to be excessively enamored of technocratic solutions to social problems, and it sometimes blows up in our faces. But on the subject of surveillance we seem to be eminently sensible. I wonder why that is. The libertarian seed?

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Much easier to get a robot ...

      @ alain williams

      smuggled copies of playboy?

      Very posh - in bog standard comps the circulating mags were the likes of Fiesta, Escort, Knave (better include one that was not a Ford car model) etc

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Much easier to get a robot ...

        Very posh - in bog standard comps the circulating mags were the likes of Fiesta, Escort, Knave (better include one that was not a Ford car model) etc

        Aaah, that's where I went wrong. As a confused 8-year-old I misunderstood things, and spent my time browsing Ford car brochures.

        To this day I'm partial to a good Probe. Haven't got to the stage of going after Kugas yet though.

  4. Gordon Pryra

    Defend Digital Me, a children's privacy campaign group

    Sounds more like some kind of shadowy group from Telford.

    As a parent of a 10 year old girl who spends much of her time on the computer, I WANT her to be tracked as much as possible.

    She is a kid, she still trusts humans, no matter what I tell her, she will do that until she learns not to.

    I would rather that moment comes a lot later in life when she is equipped to deal with this lesson.

    I trust that schools are targets and I therefore want as MUCH visibility of what she is doing, what people have contact with her and how.

    Yeah she can expect privacy, to go to the toilet. Everything else, I want to know, or want there to be an easy trail to find out.

    This is not a case of "think of the children" more a case of, allow your OWN kids privacy, I on the other hand will keep an eye on mine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Defend Digital Me, a children's privacy campaign group

      You make good points, you can't monitor her internet in school so it is the schools responsibility. Personally I believe this should be done by white list and not tracking, kids are there to learn, not go on social media and the like. The problem I have with the current set up is that it's not transparent, you are not informed exactly who has the data, who can access the data and whether that data will be sold. Schools budgets are currently stretched so it doesn't take much to consider them selling data or pushing a platform for money. That's the problem, I also have issue with bio-metrics because who is going to get that data?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Defend Digital Me, a children's privacy campaign group

        The missing ingredient is that anonymity isn't explicitly protected to any degree. Everyone should have a modicum of privacy, even children.

    2. Jemma

      Re: Defend Digital Me, a children's privacy campaign group

      Nice one Gordon.

      Slight problem.

      From what you've just said she'll be just the type who'll trust anyone right up to the point the ex sinks a carving knife into her.

      If kids are constantly controlled they stay kids, they don't grow up because they aren't allowed to. They're abysmal as adults as making decisions and reading people because they've never needed to. Welcome to being me - borderline sociopathic parents who tried to control everything and were manipulative. Not a good childhood.

      That's above and beyond all this plainchant whining about sex education. Ditto things like the HPV vaccine. Personally having watched my partner die slowly of cervical cancer at age 22 when the vaccine would have protected her it drives me mad when idiots whine that my kid is 12, she no fucky fucky, the whole point being she will eventually and be protected.. And not die slowly and horribly on the No Hope Service, and that wasn't the worst of it. Any parent who refuses should be done for child abuse on the spot.

      As to watching kids showering??!! If you or I did that it'd be a quick trip to the paedofinder general shortly followed by a discrete shanking. How is it it's OK for a school to do this? I am more and more sure that people should have to pass a test before theyre allowed to breed. Any school that has cameras in changing rooms, toilets or the like should be forced to rip them out and any footage should be taken and destroyed.

      We never had cameras in a school and I imagine most of the parents would have thrown a fit if their kids were being surveilled - how is that different from being in a dictatorship - it's just one step from creepy "protection" to something much nastier.

      It almost reads like one of the nastier Torchwood plots. I wonder if the education secretary has a cyberlady in his wardrobe? Oh wait that's Amber Rudd.

      IF cctv is to be used, playground, classrooms corridors. At most.

      ZERO tolerance of bullying - two strikes and you're out of the school system permanently.

      And just as an aside. FFS stop with the "everyone gets a prize" crap. Life is not like that, never has been, never will be.

      PS: dear schools, while you are "educating" our kids and teaching them nothing less than utter garbage (most teenagers I've talked to think Reinhard Heydrich was a member of Genesis) can you PLEASE teach them to cross a frigging road. You get 11 bloody years, it can't be too much to ask!

      1. Gordon Pryra

        Re: Defend Digital Me, a children's privacy campaign group

        Aye, having a daughter is hard work. Your comment about the knife of the ex is spot on. And I understand the problem of allowing free reign and total control of your kids.

        It didn't take long before I realised that I needed to defend her from people like me .

        Paranoia is rife, but its NOT paranoia if they ARE out to get you

  5. Alan J. Wylie

    In 2003 I was working on web proxies for schools: Squid + DansGuardian plus a lot of customisation to allow teachers to turn all internet access on and off, allow only white-listed sites tailored for that particular lesson and block sites on demand. I'd hope that 100% of schools would have some sort of web filtering system.

    In those days of limited bandwidth we even had an option to pre-load the Squid cache before the lesson started.

    Tracking individual children, however, is a different matter.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      web web proxies for schools: Squid + DansGuardian

      I remember doing that .... looking at the web logs the most enthusiastic 'pink pixel' site visitors were the teachers.

  6. Chewi
    Big Brother

    Not a new problem

    As a tech parent, I'm not going to give any immediate opinion over whether tracking in schools is good or bad, I need to think about it.

    What's interesting is that this isn't even a new problem. Back in 2000, I was collared by the head of sixth form because they'd discovered a bunch of kids playing Doom in the library and they'd traced the original download back to me. I only shared it with a select few but then some idiot started handing it out to everyone and it quickly got out of control. Obviously I'd be able to cover my tracks a lot better now. ;-) I was told to apologise to the head of IT but he couldn't seem to hide his enjoyment of commandeering the PCs remotely, leaving the kids rather spooked. I suppose the fact that he was able to do that was also a concern in itself.

    1. Brenda McViking

      Re: Not a new problem

      Hahaha. We had a copy of Mario at school which used to get played a lot. Our IT support also used to remote-in when he noticed we were playing it, and it was a race to the plug to kill the connection before he found where in the NAS we stored it. Worked for about 3 months, then someone discovered the racing game easter-egg in excel 2000 which was a sort of developer credit roll.

      And being part of excel, it couldn't be removed.

      1. MrZoolook

        Re: Not a new problem

        "someone discovered the racing game easter-egg in excel 2000 which was a sort of developer credit roll. And being part of excel, it couldn't be removed."

        Which is why it won't be long until school computers have keyloggers intentionally installed, and that brings a whole new darker privacy concern than we have here.

        But, thats the breaks you get for abusing school property, I guess.

  7. K

    the kids should know what the keywords were.

    They already get this... when the Head pulls them out of class to speak with them about it!

  8. doublelayer Silver badge

    Details of one case

    I have various opinions about this, but I think I should provide some details on the background I have before I explain them. I went to ordinary schools whose computer policy was basically "there are two rooms with computers in them and otherwise you don't need them", so the issues were pretty basic. However, I have a much younger sibling (who has recently entered university) who went to a school that issues each student a computer. These computers are extremely controlled. They have spyware over pretty much everything. I was interested, and my sibling wanted the info, so I took a copy of the disk from an external boot. This school, at least, knows what it's doing when it comes to systems admin. There are many programs that I don't understand, but I was able to identify:

    1. The program that monitors all web traffic, obviously for blocking purposes, but also it seems to have a large cache folder containing files whose content I could not discern.

    2. The program that allows any staff member at the school to retrieve the contents of the students' screens at any point, as video. Obviously this was designed to prevent students from not paying attention to class, but there seems to be no control preventing doing this when, say, the student is not in class, in a different class, at home, etc. This program was known to the students, who had seen the teachers use it. There was no indication to the students that this process was occurring, nor was there any mechanism for students to see by whom or when their computer had been accessed.

    3. The program allowing streaming video from webcams. This I cannot understand. Theoretically, teachers can already see their students just fine, right?

    4. The program logging keystrokes. Actually there were at least two of them, but they were nicely hidden binaries so I don't know what they do or where they send the data. I'm pretty sure they were keyloggers because the accompanying .plist files (these are macbooks) had strings like "keylog" in them.

    None of this was turned off when the computer was taken home. A simple packet analysis shows tons of phones home and lots of encrypted data traffic.

    Now, my opinions. I think this should be very worrying to students and parents alike. I've seen many parents saying that student activity should be monitored. I'm not fighting against that, but I think that any monitoring should be understood. If your children are in primary school, you may have a reason not to give them all the info, mostly so you can avoid confusing them, but if you don't trust your children when they are in adolescence enough to tell them what monitoring is affecting them, there's probably a bigger problem. In the specific case of this school, they seem to be collecting a scary amount of information. I can see running web monitors and even the screen capture thing for educational purposes, but I don't know, and doubt extremely, that this school has put responsible limits on data access. If you don't at all trust the students, at least distrust the staff a bit too. I definitely see webcam-watching and keylogging as extremely dangerous. The former has so many risks I don't even have to list them, and I can't even think of a good reason for needing it. Keylogging would mostly allow the school to collect passwords. That seems like it should be against some law or other, but it's probably not. Even if they think they have the right to them, I think penalties should be extremely severe the first time one of them has their data leaked.

    The most valuable lesson a student might learn from this is that you can't trust people. Any people. That will probably prove to be a valuable lesson for real life, but it runs a bit counter to schools' and parents' roles as guides. And if the students actually try to learn enough technical skill to fight back, they will likely run into the removal-protection components of the software and get in a lot of trouble. The message of this: don't try to learn how computers work, you don't need to know. Fomenting pessimism and distrust is not a recipe for success, so I believe something should be done to fix this.

    A quick addendum: after learning about the software on this computer, which I hope helped my sibling learn new skills in how to disassemble and understand systems, we talked with their parents, who were, fortunately for them, trustworthy and supportive. With their parents' encouragement, we installed a webcam cover and blocked certain ports used by the software to send back traffic on their home network. I don't imagine we prevented much, but we at least did our best.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a former school governor, the pervasiveness of the Internat is a huge problem. The Internet is not a safe place for children to browse freely for obvious* reasons.

    Schools / Academy Trust governing bodies must set the balance between monitoring / protection and privacy. The school must then execute on the policies as set out by the Governing Body - and the policy must be accessible on the school website and available from the school office.

    Read your schools' policy, and if you feel it is deficient, write to the school Governors with your concerns, or evidence of over-zealous / intrusive monitoring (screen captures, remotely enable webcams, key loggers, etc).

    The article also conveniently ignores the fact that many children aged 9 and above have access to a mobile phone with data plan - neatly bypassing any school-based filtering and data capture. If a child wants to find inappropriate material, they will by hook or by crook.

    (* Obvious - safeguarding, child protection, radicalisation, malware / ransomware / spyware, access to information that is wrong, misleading, not age-appropriate, or otherwise damaging to _a_ child. This is not an exhaustive list.)

  10. Mike 16 Silver badge

    School-installed spy/mal-ware

    So, this protects the kids on the same principle of always flying with a bomb in checked baggage, because, I mean, what are the odds of two bombs on the same flight?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damned if you do...

    Parents will demand to know why the school isn't monitoring what kids are doing, the minute a kid sends an email or IM using school computers/networks stating he's going to shoot up the school weeks before he shoots up the school (a US only problem, admittedly)

    In reality the schools are going to lose most of their ability to monitor students before long, as kids won't have any reason to use the school's wifi network - especially if they want to do something they don't want monitored / filtered. Prices for data keep dropping, and once 5G becomes widespread wifi in public places like schools will start to seem rather quaint.

  12. Oengus

    More likely scenario

    This reminds me of the McDonalds philosophy... Get the kids used to eating at McDonalds and they will be McDonalds customers for life.

    In this case, get the students used to pervasive surveillance at school and they will not complain about similar surveillance as they grow older.

    Yes I do understand the needs to "keep children safe" but pervasive surveillance like this is way over the top.

    1. aberglas

      Re: More likely scenario

      Beat me to it.

      And the internet is not nearly as dangerous as is made out. Even if, heaven forbid, kids say politically incorrect things from time to time. We should expect them to act reasonably. (And thump them when they do not!)

  13. Roj Blake

    In Loco Parentis

    During school hours, or whilst the child is on school premises, teachers effectively have all of the rights and responsibilities of parents.

    A school's monitoring of its pupils should reflect that.

    1. nijam Silver badge

      Re: In Loco Parentis

      > A school's monitoring of its pupils should reflect that.

      Not quite equivalent to behaving like the STASI, surely?

  14. msknight Silver badge

    Some of my colleagues are parents...

    ...and they are unanimously in favour of this technology, and the recording that goes with it. If they want to do non-school browsing, they use a machine that's under the parents control. And then it's the parents responsibility.

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