Report: Half of Rhode Island 1-to-1 Programs Can Remotely Access Students’ Devices

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU of RI) Thursday issued a report that looks at the policies of Rhode Island school districts with 1-to-1 programs. A survey of all 22 districts revealed that policies require parents to acknowledge that there is no expectation of privacy when a school issues a device to a student. Of those districts, half specified that they can remotely access content on a student’s device without notice or consent, while about half of those have the authority to monitor a device via camera or microphone.

The report, “High School Confidential: How School-Loaned Computers May Be Peering into Your Home,” references a well-cited example involving a school district in Pennsylvania that in 2010 took tens of thousands of screenshots of students at their homes (at times sleeping) without any permission. ACLU of RI argues that Rhode Island schools “also claim the right to surreptitiously access their students’ loaned computers remotely.”

“The ACLU of RI believes that requiring students and parents to renounce any expectation of privacy in the use of the device at home is an unacceptable diminishment of fundamental privacy rights,” the report states. “Indeed, looking more closely at exactly what this waiver of privacy expectations means ... demonstrates just how inappropriate this mandate is.”

Additionally, the report also offers policy recommendations, such as banning remote activation of a computer's webcam or microphone. It is available in full on the ACLU of RI site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].