School-issue laptop fitted with anti-social-networking censorship/surveillance software that operates off school networks, too

Laptops issued to students by the Portland, Maine school boards will come with censorware that watches all their clicks and attempts to prevent them from visiting social media sites, even when working from home or other non-school premises, and even after school hours. Tom Bell's article in the Kennebec Journal quotes Peter Eglinton, chief operating officer, stating that this is a legal requirement. He's almost certainly incorrect; the law in question states that school networks must be filtered as a condition of receiving federal funding, but doesn't explicitly extend this to school-issued laptops used on non-school networks.

By taking this aggressive approach to censorship and surveillance of its student body, I fear that the Portland school board is compromising its students' network and media literacy, ensuring that they can't be supervised and mentored through positive use of the Internet services most widely used by their cohort. I also believe that close, continuous surveillance of students' network activity, with the concomitant prohibition on the use of privacy tools, sends absolutely the wrong message about how to manage your private information online. How can students learn to use technology to prevent their personal information from leaking out online if we spy on everything they do and punish them if they try to stop us?

There is debate nationally about whether schools should integrate social media in the classrooms, said Rebecca Randall, vice president of education programs for Common Sense Media, based in San Francisco. She said she is not aware of any school district that has blocked access to social media sites from school computers that are used at home.

She said the debate over filtering policies can be summed up into two approaches: the "walled playground" or the "open sandbox."

Her organization advocates the latter approach, allowing broad access and teaching children how to safely navigate the Internet.

"Simply shielding students from social media is not going to stop them from seeing it," she said, because teenagers will have access to unfiltered Internet on home computers and other devices, such as smartphones and tablets. "We have a saying: 'You can't always cover kids' eyes. You have to teach them how to see it.' "

While federal law requires school districts to take measures like creating an Internet safety policy and blocking sexually explicit content, there is no requirement that social media sites be blocked, said Doug Levin, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, based in Maryland.

Portland school district to beef up online filters


  1. As a k12 tech, I would like to note that this philosophy is not at all uncommon. From talking with other schools in my area I would guess that this type of attitude is about 50/50 with a more open one.

    Filtering “requirements” will swing about wildly even within the same district as different administrators come and go and people react to events in the district. A couple bomb threats and the school board will push for something like this to be implemented.

    1. It’s unfortunate, but understandable given how reliably everybody completely loses their shit every time something unexpected happens in the context of public schools.

      1. I completely agree.

        It seems that our national political culture of vitriol against opponents trickles down to even the lowest level of politics, school districts.  Its unfortunate that educating our kids is an exercise in politics, but it most assuredly is. Many in the community get upset and many in the system get defensive. 
        Common sense goes out the window if we don’t agree with someone.

        1. Aspirational Xenophobia, “is this something we can ostracize and destroy a person over?” Politics and morality are the altars upon which we practice human sacrifice.

    1. Not surprising, as Doctorow usually takes things from the present and cranks it up a notch. The sad part is that those in authority seem to take such cranking as a guide, not a warning.

  2. I find it amazing and wonderful that a public school is giving out free laptops to its students in this era of draconian budget cuts.  That a small portion of the functionality is disabled is  pretty trivial in my opinion.  I think most students across the country would love to have this “problem.”  In our district, the kids get to traipse down the hall to the computer lab for about half an hour a week.  They don’t get a free computer to take home. (Edit: and the computer “lab” is a cart full of laptops in the library.)

    1. Pre-crash bonds can come to effect long after an economic crash. The in-class lab I student taught at is set to get new equipment, but the school at large is in desperate need of teachers. No re-allocations, though. The bond is worded in a way that prevents it.

      1. It has an unfortunate habit of producing visibly perverse outcomes; but rules against slush-funding one program from the budget of another definitely have their place. People get… creative… without them.

    2. I agree, it’s no different than a parent doing the same thing with their home’s wireless router or a pass code code on the cable. 

      The word used in “issued”, therefor the school still owns them and can put whatever limitations they deem necessary, especially if it’s a pilot program.  

  3. I agree the policy is heavy handed.  But there are other factors to consider.

    1) Students can use the computers at home (with restrictions) or use their own resources (without restrictions).  I’d say this is actually a very good lesson for kids: there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.  Student’s can opt not to take the computer home or the schools could opt not to allow them to be taken home.  Allowing them to be taken home is at least some sort of compromise.  But why do schools feel the need to restrict at all?  Because:

    2) in loco parentis – schools are forced to be responsible for kids at school and, under some circumstances, outside school.  Ever wonder why kids are getting picked up in front of their homes now days?  in loco parentis.  Schools are held responsible for what happens to kids from the moment they leave the front door.  Sounds stupid to me, but it’s what happens.  Same responsibility tends to show up with any school based activity.  It wouldn’t take much effort to think the safe use of a school computer, even if on a different network, was a school’s responsibility.  One molestation and one venal lawyer trying to find a way to make a buck and the schools get screwed.  “You should have secured the computer.  If you had, Suzy would be OK.”  I’m afraid this stuff is all to common, making schools paranoid.

    It sucks.  But there are two sides to this coin.

    1. Your analysis of “in loco parentis” is absolutely not accurate. If kids get picked up at the front door it’s because that’s how local busing is set up. Not because the school needs to be responsible “from the front door.” However, many schools will not release kids without someone picking them up for this reason.

      And the article was clear in saying that the local school board believes that the Feds are requiring the filters, so your analysis with regard to the computers makes no sense.

      1.  I prefer “wrong” to “makes no sense.”  Should have paid more attention to the article.

        But in loco parentis does affect busing and other school policy decisions.

    2.  “I’d say this is actually a very good lesson for kids: there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”


  4. No surprise here: the goal of American’s politicians is an inept, uninformed public of worker bee slaves who vote from their fears, not an informed populace that makes smart choices. This isn’t an esoteric conclusion on my part: look at how income levels are separating, and it’s pretty easy to see that we are rapidly headed towards a corporate-feudal society. As with the farming-feudal version, the best workers are, necessarily, intellectually dull ones.


  5. Is use of these laptops required by the school curriculum? 

    Point being, if this is an opt-in service I think there’s a reasonable argument for the schools to tightly restrict what can be done with them. Learning about the wild and crazy shit that goes on over the internet should be the job of the parents, schools shouldn’t be obligated to facilitate it.

    But if use of the hardware is mandatory I think it’s a tougher argument. No one really should be forced to maintain multiple computers, one for homework and another for personal use. Talk about an enormous waste of money and eventual back problems.

    1. There are exceptions(generally limited-scale programs where some laptops can be checked out of the library); but ‘school hands out laptops’ most typically implies that the school or district has drunk the kool-aide and the computers are compulsory for the curriculum and issued to everyone.

  6. Interacting with social media, I suppose, is what schools would consider horsing around. That and the fact they provide the unit gives them some say. I mean, my God, don’t these kids have iPhones?

  7. What percentage of students install their own disk drive with their favorite OS on it?  That is, if the case screws don’t have Glyptol in the slots.

    1. They’d probably hold the parents liable for ‘damaging property’ demand money to replace it (money for the laptop plus Office, and anything else on there… flash with a stock image and send it out with someone else.

  8. As a K12 tech jocky, myself, I’d say that this is one of the fundamental problems with the various ‘1-intertube-machine-per-child’ school handout programs.

    There are really two problems that almost always doom the ‘personal’ laptops/devices to be lockdown nightmares:

    1. The techies generally don’t have much clout on policy: If the school board, the superintendent, the Concerned Parents For America, or whoever want facebook banhammered into a smoking crater, tech’s only real argument is “I’m afraid that would be infeasible”. Since that’s a lie, thanks to censorware vendors, tech doesn’t have much pushback at all. So, even though most tech people, in my experience, are pretty jaded and laid back about the terrors of the intertubes, they will end up implementing whatever system the darkest fantasies of those who do have actual power demands.

    2. If the school is issuing computers, there is a strong implicit or explicit demand that they be functional and in a predictable state when the time comes to use them for some ‘e-learning’ nonsense in the classroom. If Little Timmy can’t run the Glencoe ‘Understanding Concepts’ CD-ROM because he installed Linux, the faculty will not be happy. If students are IMing each other in class because they’ve all installed TOR nodes, unhappy, if 20% are out of commission because of viruses and/or spyware, unhappy. This creates a very strong incentive for the IT people to ‘manage’ the systems to ensure that they remain in a consistent state: Lock the BIOS and boot order, no admin priviledges in the OS, re-imaging the wonky ones, etc. The institutional demands that the computer be predictable and available are overwhelmingly stronger than the ones that it be meaningfully ‘owned’ by the student.

    That’s the problem. You don’t need the forces of evil to push their totalitarian agenda, it just happens that institutional property is subjected to institutional norms and controls because of terribly banal demands.

    My recommendation? Just. Say. No. In school, do your schoolwork on the lockdown typenboxes provided. Assuming IT is competent, they will be consistent, mostly functional, and have what is required to fulfill curriculum demands.

    Outside of school, there is no way that something can be ‘yours’ and ‘the school’s’ at the same time. The tensions between those roles just don’t allow it. Do Not have the school waste the money to ‘give’ you ‘your’ computer. It won’t be yours in any useful way. You’d be much better off with the cheapest, nastiest, netbook/used clunker available, owned free and clear by you.

    (I understand, of course, the desire to ‘bridge the digital divide’. This is hard. There seems to be little stomach for giving poor people computers outright; but school programs inevitably end up handing out grim lockdown boxes(and wasting money by providing them to students of all income brackets, so that we can pretend that this is about pedagogy rather than poverty) which means that the costs are high and the poor kids still get utter shit.)

    1.  Absolutely agree, as another IT professional. It’s hard enough to keep everything working, without having to worry about the added exposure to all the junk on social media sites.

      This has nothing to do with censorship or legality. School property = school approved use.

  9. I have no issue at all with a school restricting a laptop they issue to students.  

    1. It sounds like that’s because you’re considering them as school property, and ignoring their value as educational tools for students. Your comment is about the first but all the complaints were about the second.

      1. The school is not stopping them from being used as educational tools. 

        The school can and IMHO should lock them down. 

    1. Students are told that teachers may go through their browser history to see if they’ve been visiting inappropriate sites or if they’ve erased their history.

  10. The charitable take on this is that some people don’t always understand the rules or want to err on the side of paranoia. The less charitable take is from Lincoln: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” 

    The real problem here for me is not knowing where the parents and community stand on this. They, through their elected school board, should be setting the policy here. But in modern industrial society, who has time to fight the bureaucracy who will always fall back on “we’re doing this for your own good?” 

  11. I know I am going to be in the minority here, but I don’t see anything wrong with this.

    Fact is, you should never access social media sites, or even really conduct any personal computing, on a machine you don’t “own”. If its not your property, you have no privacy. Thats a mistake a ton of people are making every day with work computers, and often times losing their job over it. 

    Sure, let kids get online, let them access social networks. Mine are online, I have no problem with that. But a school computer is a school computer, and should only be used for school purposes. I lecture my children to never login to personal accounts on school computers, ever. Great way to lose privacy, and possibly get your account compromised. 

    The reasoning behind this decision might be flawed, but it is still the right decision. 

    1. Of course that means students can’t use social networks (on a school computer) to coordinate for school purposes (e.g. working on a project together).

      1. This. I teach youth media classes during the day and community college classes in the evenings. Both rely heavily on web-based technologies that are now blocked by many school districts (especially YouTube).

        It’s hard to prepare people for lives and careers in the 21st Century if you limit your curricula to the tools of the 20th.

        1. Yeah, if the coursework involves social media sites that the tool blocks, then that is stupid and the teachers should make a fuss out of that. I agree with that 100%.

          Students that use social media accounts as part of the coursework should use “school” accounts that are just for that, and nothing else. They should not use personal accounts at all for this sort of thing. 

          Really, I think this is inline with what I said in regards to “But a school computer is a school computer, and should only be used for school purposes.” 

          I think a lot of this is we are coming at this from different angles. As a parent, I am concerned with protecting my kid from the school (sad eh?). As an educator, I can see you being more concerned with trying to use all the tools needed to impart knowledge. So when we see this story, our reaction goes right back to our primary goals. 

  12. There was a point a number of years ago computers nearly were marketed at affordable to almost any north american who wanted one. It was started in part by the One Laptop Per Child program, before it was actually prototyped the idea was shopped around and a lot of working geeks saw the idea of a $100 machine and were very interested in the idea of a buy two, one for them, one for someone who could not afford it program. This interest sparked Netbooks, and I think was the reason they came into vogue for a little while, they didn’t debut at the $100 price point as the market for such a machine was new, and hadn’t had time to mature.

    Yes the machines couldn’t do a lot with their small screens and tiny keyboards, but they could do most things, and they were (and if you can still find them) reasonably inexpensive and they were getting cheaper and cheaper each and every season, a low income family could potentially afford netbook of their own unless they were living a hand to mouth existence, if things just worked a little longer for that market, it could come close or even hit that $100 price point. A point where they would really take off, not just in North America but in many places around the world.

    What stopped it?  I personally believe it was Apple, and the iPad.  It moved people away from increasingly cheaper netbooks to the more costly iPad. The iPad itself wasn’t so much the problem (its a beautiful machine) but it  enabled a market shift from an expectation of cheaper netbooks to more expensive tablets, the netbook market died almost entirely, and it pushed access to machines for lower income families out of reach.

    We wouldn’t need to have schools provide crippled machines if they machines were affordable to almost anyone who needed one. Not everyone could own one at even $100, but at that point social programs and philanthropy efforts could fill the gaps where needed.

  13. It probably won’t take very long for any interested kid to put puppy linux on a cheap thumb drive. It’ll take a few hours more for the really interested to crack the bios password.

    1. The kids who are already computer-literate enough to do that sort of thing probably aren’t the ones who have the greatest need for school-issued laptops in the first place.

  14. Hey, I’m from Portland! Let me point out this:  “those from middle-class families expressed various degrees of annoyance when told of the new filtering measures. A group of immigrant students reacted with anger.”
    The whole point of the laptop program that Angus King started was to improve computer literacy for every kid in the state, or that’s what we heard as middle school students. Of course, me and most of my friends already had a computer tower and monitor sitting somewhere in our house which we used for neopets, myspace, newgrounds, etc. Watching teachers fumble through integrating technology they didn’t really care for into their lesson plans felt like a step backwards, but the computers were entertaining, so whatever.
    When we had to deal with the schools over-controlling attitudes while the kids up north were given what looked like total freedom with their computers, I was jealous, but in retrospect it makes sense, because for a lot of those kids up north that might be the only computer they had access to. I’m guessing the Somolian kids (and southern Maine has a lot of recent Somolian immigrants) you see sitting in the Portland Public Library hunched over their netbooks are in a similar position. Maybe there’s no other computer in their home, maybe they are at the library because there’s no wifi in their house and maybe no internet either. Unfortunately their peers are more privileged and its the complaints of middle class parents that matters more than the needs of lower class kids. These are the kids who need these machines more than anyone. Improving computer literacy for students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to computers is the whole point of the program, but when they cripple the machines they cripple the education available to these kids. On the other hand it’s all worth it so long as  Julie McLaughlin can’t watch the sixth season of House instead of using her PSAT prep book, she really needs us to help her achieve what she’s meant to achieve.

    1.  Heck, crippling probably increases computer learning.  90% of what I know about computers comes from trying to overcome problems.  Microsoft, Linux, and Apple quirks, bugs, and plain flat stupidity have done more to teach computers than any computer course.

  15. I wonder if this might just be due to a case of laziness on behalf of the district and their IT guys. They may have just set up a single login with certain web sites blocked and used that as a template for all the student computers. Once they were distributed it would be a pain to undo, so claiming “we had to do it this way” sounds better than “we goofed, it would have been a better idea just to block facebook through the district’s firewalls.”

    1. The IT guys very rarely have any influence on what the are told to implement outside of saying it is not possible. Read the comment by fuzzyfuzzyfungus above. It is completely accurate to the way things run in all the school districts I’ve had interactions with.

      1. Many schools don’t even have the budget for dedicated IT guys, so it’s also quite possible that someone set the laptops up this way because they didn’t know any better. Believe me, I’ve seen plenty of cases where schools somehow got the money to buy a computer lab but didn’t have anyone with the expertise to set it up properly.

    1. Agreed, someone should start distributing the Ubuntu sticks to the kids for free with a little instruction packet wrapped around it.

      1. Yes… someone…
        So these are Dell Latitude 2100 netbooks with tiny screens and keyboards and everything
        Processor: intel atom CPU n270 1.60GHz
        RAM: 2GB

        is Ubuntu the best choice? I know there’s Ubuntu optimized for netbooks so I’d go with that over the standard version. Are there other distros that should be considered? Does Puppy Linux make sense for this in an era of 16 GB flashdrives for $13? Do you think the kids would like Mint?

        1. They could run BackTrack on that really easy. Then they can have some real fun with the hardware as well…

        2. Could even go with Pepperment for something really lightweight.

          Thing is It’s ultimately the school’s property. It is their choice on how they hand these things out. OF course if they allow booting off a USB stick or cd, then that kindof gives people the best of both worlds. Yet at the same time that risks somebody overwriting the primary OS.

        3. @PatrickMcGorrill:disqus I dunno, I’m seeing 4GB usb sticks going for 5 bucks nowadays and could probably score some cheaper in bulk.  That would be plenty of space for Ubuntu and some basic file storage, etc.  I guess it depends on the budget for USB sticks.  Obviously, you could get away with very tiny ones with Puppy.

          @google-6c18529221b7c616cf54f73f926ce46a:disqus that’s true, BackTrack boots fine on Macs.

          @google-c5868c47252dbe2d7b51541d5f7b6f51:disqus , do schools block booting from USB on Macs?  If so, how do they do it specifically?  With the firmware?  I know you can block optical, but don’t see how to remove usb without screwing with kext files, etc. and even then that wouldn’t be practical for various reasons.

    2. IT incompetence certainly happens; but your contemporary boring business box(the usual choice of bulk-ordering IT departments) makes it trivial to disable boot devices(or even ports and integrated peripherals entirely). 

      Many of the cheaper systems can still be defeated by stubbing the flash chip at the correct moment, if you are willing to expose the motherboard; but some of the TPM-based ones can no longer. Most are also still defeatable by swapping out whatever device is blessed to boot with another hanging off the exact same bus; but even that is not always possible.

      Cost usually forbids this; but good luck if the district has sprung for something with a recent version of ‘vPro… Full remote control, including KVM over VPN, all handled by a service processor built into the motherboard? Yup. It’s an OS-agnostic hardware bug. Intel charges a pretty penny for it, so your odds of escaping are decent; but it is available…

    3. And this is exactly what I would teach my kid to do with a school laptop even if was not full of filters and such.

  16. What is achieved when you let others cover their own ass so entirely at the expense of open communication and personally-defined creativity?

    What sort of students are we trying for? What kind of citizen takes that?

  17. Please note that while the CIPA law requires filtering for E-rate compensation, it does not say how effective it must be. A filter that blocks only Playboy, and a filter that blocks the entire internet except for zombocom are both considered filters for the purpose of this law.

    1. take a hint from the Digital Millennium copyright act– there’s no requirement that the DRM be hard to crack, only that it be intended to have the effect of thwarting unlicensed use.

  18. Seems like good training for the kids to me.  Have them learn early that if you get anything to help you better yourself and society, it needs to come with some humiliation, prying and lesser rights than the rich kids whose parents bought a MacBook Pro i7.

    Know your rights, kids.  These are your rights.

  19. I have a personal machine and a work machine. I long ago came to peace with using the work machine for work and work only outside of lunchtime web browsing when I am actually on site and not working via vpn. Heck even though I have admin rights to I don’t know how many servers I don’t have it to my workstation and even though I could have it if I asked I have found with the install tool for the company I don’t need it.

    This is a schoool machine and as such is for school work and not screwing around on facebook and twitter so I really don’t see what the problem is with it being that locked down as far as access to the internet (as long as it isn’t censoring actual information on wikipedia, etc)

    Also as a former desktop tech I can say that having a standard locked down image and limiting rights is a great thing at keeping things in check when it is just you and hundreds of machines to take care of and I did it for  Engineers with college degrees etc and the stuff they did to workstations back before the ease of locking things down was atrocious.

    1. I have a personal machine and a work machine. I long ago came to peace with using the work machine for work and work only outside of lunchtime web browsing…

      Good for you. Guess what? Most of these kids don’t have their own laptops, that’s the whole reason for the school issuing them in the first place.

      Also, imagine if that work computer of yours was set up to limit your browsing, even on your own time. Would that make you feel like someone who had the trust and respect of his employers?

      1. It does limit my browsing on my own time. It is called a corporate firewall/filter. If I didn’t have a personal pc then I still would not use the company box for personal things as it is something that can get me fired. It is provided and paid for by the company for company use. If they limit my web browsing at lunch then I will find something else to do.

        It is the schools property. Are kids allowed to take magic marker and doodle in the pages of the text books? Rip pages out because they are bored and then ask for new one. No they are not at least not without having to pay for the book.

        I don’t get this attitude of “i need to do whatever i want with school/company property”. No No you don’t. It isn’t your property.
        I am given the laptop by my employer to do work for the company on it because it is a tool requried to do my job. Nothing more. The fact I can check yahoo mail and watch youtube and read Boing Boing on a break is nice but not a requirement for my job. Gee it would be nice to install Starcraft2 but thats not what they gave the laptop to me for. Being able to post to Facebook and such is not a requirement to get schoolwork done and is big invitation to getting the machine screwed up.

        1. It is the schools property. Are kids allowed to take magic marker and doodle in the pages of the text books? Rip pages out because they are bored and then ask for new one.

          Pretty terrible analogy. You don’t have to replace a computer after it’s been used to visit Facebook.

          The fact I can check yahoo mail and watch youtube and read Boing Boing on a break is nice but not a requirement for my job.

          Maybe not, but I bet you’d have a little resentment toward your employer if they didn’t trust you enough to give you a machine capable of doing those things, even on your own time. And rightly so.

          Speaking of which—are you on lunch break now?

          1. Speaking of which—are you on lunch break now?
            No, but my current work plate is a lot of start up the scripts and wait stuff and I am at home so using my personal box which sits nearby. Boing Boing comments don’t work through the company firewall for some reason.
            And again the laptop is provided for them to do school work. Period. It is not provided to them to have fun with.

            Maybe I have done too much tech support and had to clean up after to many incidents of malware making not only into the company but onto the servers. But man if was the tech support guy for those boxes I would want them locked down hard. Sorry I know what gets done to computers by the general user and it is not fun to clean up even if you just nuke it from orbit and start over.
            I will say that the level of filtering is overkill but I do understand it.

    2. It doesn’t matter that your tablet  individually weighs only 1.35 pounds. You’re going to be carrying two of them–one  for work;one for play. 2.7 lbs total.

      If only the manufacturer offered the lighter weight option of a five-hour battery– after all, you’re going to be splitting your time between the two.

      1. The personal box stays at home and yes if required I would lug both around and it isn’t a tablet it is a beast of a laptop and I have brougt both to work when I had to do a lot of hurry up and wait while loading a new image to the work one. The work pc is for work, end of discussion. It is not for posting to twitter, not for playing Doom, not for my personal use.

  20. If I had a school issued computer, the supplied operating system would soon become a VM, and I’d put my own OS on it. They wouldn’t need to know and if they found out and didn’t like it, tough. 

  21. Future Headline: “Local Freshman abducted by stranger he met through school-issued laptop; parents sue for not protecting their child.”

    Not for nothing, but there is a legitimate question about liability.  The school is certainly in a position to empower students, but with great empowering comes great liability.  There is educational value in social networking, yes.  There is also a legion of attorneys ready to sue the pants off a school board that doesn’t block the porn sites on the school’s computer.

    Also, a further question: let’s assume the computer is not an electronic device, but instead a “portal” to the internet.  The school is definitely responsible for any data accessed through the portals on school property.  If they start distributing traveling portals to students, aren’t they arguably then still responsible for data accessed by students?  That’s a not-entirely-unreasonable interpretation of the word “network” made by a layperson trying to cover his or her own ass.

  22. How can students learn to use technology to prevent their personal information from leaking out online if we spy on everything they do and punish them if they try to stop us? 

    Sounds like an excellent way to make at least a few of em really good at it…

  23. Kids will learn about the REAL internet on their home computers, just as they find other ways to learn about sex and drugs and other things which SHOULD be taught in class, where they COULD be discussed in a balanced manner.

    School administrators, local alderpersons, and other clueless would-be monarchs will continue to foist their beliefs on everyone by hiding the real world and encouraging ignorance.

  24. You forget – these laptops are for use by children, not adults.
    It’ll take them about 2 minutes to figure out how to disable all of the censor/spyware.

  25. Two things occur to me:

    1a) Students will probably be able to disable the monitoring systems, unless 

    1b) the system is in the HPA (host protected area) area of the HD, which are a complete pain to remove [even Darik’s Boot And Nuke won’t touch it, you’ll need a special custom app to clear it out.]

    1c) a BIOS password is installed… well, maybe not. BIOS passwords can be cracked, and depending on your model, there is usually a set of jumpers on the motherboard that can be bridged to reset it.

    1d) the system is hardware-based… seriously, if someone were to give me a computer that I were to discover had a monitoring system built right into the motherboard,  my first impulse would be to transfer all my data off it.
    My second impulse would involve a hammer and righteous ire.

    2) I’m pretty sure the parents of the students who are given the devices could make the claim that keeping the restrictions active outside of the school grounds is a violation of the students’ right to privacy, as well as a case of the schools meddling outside their jurisdiction.
    Maybe some of the richer parents could summon a lawyer? That’d change things in a hurry.

  26. We want to be ‘free’ and yet we live in a society obsessed with rules.  

Comments are closed.