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Answer To Teacher Spying And Student Surveillance? ParanoidLinux!

The following question came up on Twitter: are teachers spying on students with advanced Internet tools and are students getting acculturated to the practice?

The Buena Vista Middle School in Salinas, California, where Caldeira is employed (and is currently on leave, following the uproar over the story), uses GoGuardian, a standard software tool for monitoring what students do during Zoom classes. GoGuardian, which promotes itself as powering "digital learning environments where every student can thrive," is being used in about 30,000 schools.

Schools do, of course, have a vested interest in protecting students. Defenders of programs like GoGuardian point out that it could catch a student searching for, say, "how to commit suicide." But as with law, extreme cases make bad policy. If "digital learning environment" tools also collect data related to non-life-threatening behavior, can we expect school authorities to hold a line on what to flag and when to interfere?

Over the last twenty-five years, I've thought that young people are inured to the practice of teacher surveillance (and government surveillance) by their participation in computer games that constantly show where their character is in the game, its state of health and other attributes.

But Cory Doctorow's fictional ParanoidLinux from his 2008 novel Little Brother would come in handy, no doubt.

ParanoidLinux is an operating system that assumes that its operator is under assault from the government (it was intended for use by Chinese and Syrian dissidents), and it does everything it can to keep your communications and documents a secret. It even throws up a bunch of "chaff" communications that are supposed to disguise the fact that you're doing anything covert.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/28/2022)

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