school privacy & security

With schools starting this fall, one invariably will think about the safety of their children – both online and in the real world. There are numerous security programs and apps now that tout data security technology and online measures to keep students safer in the real world classroom. The technology generally markets itself as having the ability to predict the propensity of students to conduct acts of violence in schools. In order to do so, the software offered by these companies reads our kids’ emails and social media posts insofar as they are publicly available or sent through school networks. The technology contains certain key words and phrases that trigger alerts, which are then sent to the provider’s customer, typically schools. It sounds promising and is definitely optimistic given today’s climate, which I like. But are they really getting the full picture? If a message is privately sent between students on social media as opposed to a school’s network email, it seems that the software would not have access important information indicating a kid’s nefarious plans or potential harmful activities if it were included in private interaction. It is also questionable if the limited scope of the protection services offered by these companies is worth what we give up in terms of privacy. 
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