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In Rhode Island, students and parents must let schools spy on them day and night through their laptops

A majority of the Rhode Island school districts with “1-1” programs where each student is issued a laptop have a blanket policy of spying on the students and everything they do on their laptops, during, before and after school hours, on or off school premises, without any evidence (or even suspicion ) of wrongdoing.

The schools analogize this to school locker searches, in which students are denied any Fourth Amendment protections. But that (very dubious) principle is being stretched beyond the breaking point, as school lockers are in schools, whereas these laptop searches are being carried out remotely, everywhere, anywhere.

This isn’t so different from the policies asserted by employers who require workers to take devices home, then assert the right to spy on them using those devices, installing their own certificates so they can stage “man-in-the-middle” interceptions of private sessions between employees and their email providers, financial institutions, etc.

Employers say that employees should just maintain two separate constellations of devices, one personal, and not conduct any personal business on them. This is at best unrealistic, and at worst cynical bullshit. Every study conducted of these situations shows that no one — not careful lawyers, not secrecy-conscious spies, not criminals, not government employees — can reliably separate their work and personal business on separate devices.

Worse yet is the idea — further normalized by the school districts — that your employer has the absolute right to spy on everything you do while you’re on the job. If intercepting and reading your personal email is fair game, then why not install hidden mics in the parking lot to listen in when your spouse drops in to discuss their cancer diagnosis during a tense one-on-one by the car?

 

 

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