Hall High School Spyware?

James Rozario and Julian Han

Where’s the line between safety and privacy?  In terms of online monitoring, there is no set line varying from administration to administration. Additionally, being monitored often gets no say in how they are observed or barred from using the resources, just like at West Hartford Public Schools.

Pop up that would come up when GoGuardian was first installed on a personal computer.

Recently West Hartford Public schools, otherwise known as WHPS, began testing a monitoring software known as GoGuardian on school district-issued devices. Still, there was an issue where it would run on personal computers and continue to stay running even after the school account was closed and a non-WHPS account was being used. According to information gathered from GoGaurdian’s own website, some of the functions of this software are, “Protect your students from harmful content, monitor all websites,” “Quickly access insights on student activity.” Monitoring students on school-issued devices and using a school account is expected, but running an app on a personal computer is not welcomed by some students such as Emilio Chan. Mr.Chan is a Senior at Hall, and he really does not like what the district has been doing, “I think this is a blatant breach of privacy and trust.”

 

GoGuardian is something that others may feel uncomfortable with. When Meghan Zingle, our acting vice-principal, was asked, “Would you feel safe with allowing [GoGaurdian] to take your child’s information,” she responds by saying, “No, I would say outside of the school day, [and], the school hours, I don’t feel that that’s the school’s business.” GoGaurdina has since been removed from all school and personal computers, so we now have our privacy back.  There is the issue that the school was monitoring our personal data for over two weeks without informing any students; there were also a large number of faculty members who were unaware of what GoGuardian was doing while it was running its new tests. The purpose of this GoGuardian test was to see if students were doing their work while in an online class and making sure they’re on-topic when a teacher cannot see their screen. This did come at the price of the school monitoring the student’s personal email and seeing things that students should have a right not to disclose to others without their consent. There is also the question of if GoGuardian finds something on a person’s account, do they have a right to use it in a legal situation?  Meghan Zingle said, “Outside of GoGaurdian we get alerted to student activity by other students, by parents, that sort of thing, on a regular basis. And our job as school administrators is to make sure that our students are safe and that they’re healthy so that they can be successful academically”. This could make one question if that is the case is GoGuardian even necessary for students to have. In the end this was only a test on students and teachers and the program is no longer running according do Mr. Dan Zittoun as of Friday February 27th 2021. 

Computer enthusiast Awab Ali is a Senior at Hall High School and is very concerned about his privacy.