Brighton Secondary's New IT "System" - Micromanaging Our Lives

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Ever since arriving at Brighton Secondary it has been made abundantly that we (supposedly) have very little autonomy over what happens to our devices: from the phones we carry and have either been given by our parents or have bought ourselves; to the iPads we bring from home to use at school, and even the Macbooks the school loans to us for a substantially higher amount than regular retail price. We are made into install tracking software onto our iPads so the school can monitor our activity wherever we are, and we are made to sign a document which supposedly removes our rights as owners to do with them as we wish. This is similarly micromanaged by the school in the case of Macbooks: we are made to "purchase" the Macbooks on instalments through the school, and while they already come in "protective cases" (flimsy plastic panels which are easily broken simply by being worn) they also come chock-full of tracking software which monitors almost every aspect of our digital lives that we access through these Macbooks.

 

These Macbooks have a maximum hard-drive capacity of 128 Gigabytes, and the tracking software which is installed takes up over 100 Gigabytes of this storage capacity. And for devices which are supposed to last us for three years this is quickly filled and then we are the ones who are blamed for "filling them with crap" even though we have barely got anything on there. While people can utilise external hard drives this is not always the case: hard drives of 500 Gigabytes and above can be and do get quite expensive and thusly not everyone has access or one or more.

 

While I understand that certain things should not be accessed at school (social networking sites and pornographic sites) there are other websites which can and are utilised in education, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Clickview et cetera. Music services such as Spotify are also widely used to aid in concentration and blocking out extraneous background noises. However, due to recent implementations by the Brighton IT services all of these websites and services (and more) have been blocked altogether. Even platforms such as Google Docs have been the victim of these new programs, and this platform is used in collaborative projects and handing up work to teachers and the like. The new CyberHound software is designed to track our activity and what we do on a whole new level. Think Facebook Alaytica scandal level, and then apply it to the context of en educational environment. CyberHound is an external service which could be compromised; CyberHound collects every single piece of data it can and stores it and shares it with the school’s IT services on an unprecedented level. It tracks what is written, what we look up, when we log into websites, tracks our locations, and that’s just online. It also accesses our data while offline. I no longer feel okay with using my device: I knew and accepted that on some level IT has to keep track of what we are doing to make sure that we wouldn’t get into trouble or didn’t do anything illegal (which has happened in spite of efforts against it happening) however this feels like - in fact it is - a whole other level of privacy invasion. They are now tracking and gathering data indiscriminately no matter the person or the detail. Every aspect of our usage of these devices which end up getting wiped and then given to us anyway at the end of Year 12 (if circumstances before then don’t intervene), so why bother going to all this trouble? If you, as a parent, woke up one morning to find this level of tracking and monitoring software installed on your device (or multiple devices) how would you feel? Unnerved, violated, uncomfortable about the fact that your privacy had/has been completely revoked? Well, you should feel that way, because us as a student body are feeling extremely uncomfortable and very much like our privacy has been stripped away. So, the point of this whole petition: we ask that Brighton and its IT services reconsider the choices that they have made in filling our devices and internet connections with, as well as why they would need to feel the urge to collect every single thing that we do and store it away. If the storage system were to somehow be hacked into or otherwise compromised it would prove a massive disaster for everyone involved. It is unnecessary, restrictive, disruptive, inhibitive to our learning, and extremely close to - if not entirely - privacy invasion of the very worst kind, especially how most of these new changes and programs and bits of software were installed without our knowledge over the holidays by IT themselves. And please, reverse these new changes and go back to what you were doing before: making sure that people weren’t using VPNs or partaking in illegal activity on school WiFi and grounds.



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