What TSI Knows About You

By: Henry Sacra

TSI or CIA?

Just about everyone knows that big tech companies and data brokers track and keep information on you; many don’t know that they essentially own you. Facebook knows where you are and everything you like, Google keeps an archive of all of your data that passes through their services (including “deleted” data) and data broker Intelius has so much data on everyone that they give away scarily accurate personal information for free (like the address of your home).

A standard Asus Chromebook loaded with Chrome OS, an operating system by Google that helps give administrators full control over all of your internet activity.

With this in mind, many of us recognize that the school is tracking us. But, how much?

The following consists of responses from an interview with Paul Goodenough, Director of Educational Technology as well as information on Blocksi directly from the official Blocksi website. Quotes have been edited for clarity.

JPS can see essentially all of your internet activity through Blocksi

“Blocksi is an extension that is added through Google Management that tracks internet activity for students,” says Goodenough. “It also has a Teacher Dashboard that allows teachers to interact with their students during limited class sessions.”

Additionally, “Blocksi tracks all internet activity and alerts district and site administrators of any activity that is considered harmful. Either harm to self or harm to others. Site administrators get these alerts so they can intervene and get the student the needed help. Inappropriate behavior is monitored by the EdTech department and if it becomes habitual or moves into the realm of harmful, an administrator is contacted.”

Blocksi does many things. (Source: Blocksi.net)

Some practices of Blocksi include but are not limited to:

  • Logging all web history
  • Client side enforced filtering
    • This enables blocked websites to be blocked at home and school.
  • Automatic risk assessment of all Google services. 
    • This is scanning your emails, documents and any other file you may store or search on Google or its services for language that could point towards risk. 
      • Filters include drug use or references, cyberbullying, self-harm, nudity, ect.
  • Live view of student’s laptop
    • Since a majority of Blocksi is cloud based but still runs on the computer (as opposed to Network based filtering which only works on specific networks like school WiFi), administrators and staff are still able to see your screen at home.
  • Anti-theft
    • This allows administrators to get a near exact location of where you are if the Chromebook is powered on.

As for Google, the administrators may see anything you use your Google account for and the services you use it to log on with.

JPS can track and see what you are doing when you are at home.

“If you are on your school-issued Chromebook or logged into your school Google Account on the Chrome browser on any device, your activity is being logged.”

People other than JPS can see what you are doing.

“Each system [Blocksi, Google, ect] has a different data retention policy,” says Goodenough. This means that Google, Blocksi and other services and solutions JPS use also have data on you, however, the student has the power to request data removal.

“All data can be removed by request by following the steps outlined in the vendor’s privacy policy. They are listed here for EdTech Software,” says Goodenough.

JPS can access your webcam and microphone (but only with your permission).

“Even with the tools within Blocksi, the camera cannot be activated without a student’s action on their end. Teachers only get a very small thumbnail that refreshes every few seconds on the teacher dashboard. It is not live. They cannot see a live feed of a student’s activity on their device without the student allowing it on their end.”

JPS can see your pageviews (more specific statistics on what pages students view in Canvas).

“Pageviews are tracked by all online systems a student logs into with district credentials. This is not limited to Canvas. These pageviews are only for activity within Canvas.”

“The school is a safer place.”

With all of this being said, Eric Fox, Associate Principal at Jenks Highschool said, “I think our students and staff are safer because of the protocols in place.” He also said that he has used the risk assessment system on Blocksi, but his investigations have been primarily “academic integrity issues.” In a school setting, surveillance can save lives and is often anticipated. According to the school, these softwares are not used to be intrusive or controlling of students, but to protect said students.

Being in control of your own data is important. After all, it is a part of you, someone living in the digital age.

To conclude, here is a very informal list of things to do to better your digital privacy in any situation. It is imperative that our generation begins to care about digital privacy and security; without privacy, freedom will begin to die.

Henry’s Informal Privacy Practice List

Sources:

Paul Goodenough, Director of Educational Technology

Eric Fox, Associate Principal 

Bill Casey, Director of IT

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