New district software Secur.ly monitors devices

Connor Servais, Editor

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Many students at Bay Port use their school computers to view and communicate through social media, and access personal information stored on secure websites, such as banking information. While this in itself varies between students, one thing does not — the level of monitoring and file keeping on this information that is not communicated to the school body.

The school has access to a file containing all of the student body’s personal information contained and accessed on their school-issued devices. In mid-March, Bay Port sent out a brief email entailing the details of a software called Secur.ly on all school devices, which will begin tracking your locations through IP addresses, collecting (and holding) information including logins and web pages viewed, and relaying that information to third parties (discretionary). This is concerning to some, not only because of the considerable amount of observing, but because of the lack of information available to students about the level of oversight.

Although, premature skepticism may not be the best way to approach the situation, as the director of technology for Howard Suamico School District Kyle Siech explains, “The district has the obligation to make sure most kids are safe.” This sense of needing to watch over students is what inspired the district to choose such a service that filters computer and iPad use away from the district network.

He feels that this service will provide peace at mind for parents and the district due to this service’s offsite filtering, which is the first of its kind. Siech says,“That’s been a challenge to even have something available to do that.” In fact, the central reason for using this service stems from the district’s desire to be able to monitor devices offsite, which they haven’t had the option to do, especially for such a low-cost.

Gaggle, a company run by Google, focuses on all social media accounts created with a school email address, and is able to detect any form of illegal action through the scanning of certain trigger words that send a notification warning to the district about situations that could involve anything from pornography to “Sitting up in the middle of the night, writing a letter about suicide.” With the Gaggle system in place now, Mr. Siech says he has incidents daily. He hopes that this new service furthers the progress in diffusing negative situations and assists in detecting more possible suicide situations, or any other dangerous situations students may be in. He says that Secur.ly will further aid in the safety of students because it gives the district “the ability to [monitor] in a safe environment at home.”

Secur.ly is already downloaded onto all iPads, and there is a pilot group of high school students who are testing the service on Macbooks. Kyle Siech says that on the iPads so far, “Secur.ly’s been great. That’s been very well received.” He predicts this service should be on all school computers before the next school year begins.

The District’s intentions by using this service seem far from malicious; however, it is clear from the email’s rhetoric that there are small-scale exclusions of information that provide the true extent of secur.ly’s tracking. The email never once uses any word to describe the service other than “filtering,” which doesn’t include the individual file kept on each student, and that is a large portion of secur.ly’s role in schools.

It’s important to be knowledgeable in that the school is always monitoring— location, and every web page visited on your computer, so if this is information you do not want the school to be informed in, refrain from using these services and looking at pages and social medias you feel should be kept private. There is no way to take this program off, or give up your school issued device, so just be cognizant, informed, and refrain from accessing information that you wish to be private.

For many, it is not necessarily what this service does that’s upsetting, it is a matter of informing students that these devices are meant to act as school property that is solely for educational purposes. Although not innately encouraged, it is often inferred that these devices should be used for personal use, which is problematic if this information can easily, and is being used to be held against students.

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