Teachers and privacy

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UK teachers’ union says no to bill allowing searches of student mobiles - Naked Security

I agree. I’m an IT-geek (just started college) and I could easily manage such a feat even if I had an older phone that doesn’t have such security built in. It’s reasonable to presume that students who are up to no good would find a way to obscure their sensitive information, whether by a high level encryption algorithm or something as simple as a Caesar cipher.

Being allowed to physically gain access to student’s devices – using a fuzzy excuse no less – is no guarantee that anything useful will come of it. If the teachers feel the need to stop cheating it’s quite simple: no electronic devices during class. Electronic bullying however is a difficult problem to tackle and would be better solved by psychological methods not outright violation of (innocent?) students privacy.

A thought that came up when I discussed the topic with my roommate:

Suppose the student is having a conversation with his/her boy/girlfriend via MSN. If the person who confiscated the device wanted to know what the student was up to what would be the first place to look? Besides browser history. Bingo – the chatlogs. It’s a fact that we often express ourselves very differently in chatrooms than we would in real life and such an intrusion would very likely add a psychological weight in addition to all the ‘normal’ puberty worries.

If there indeed is a powerful reason to violate one’s privacy in such a way…the bare minimum should be that another party (parent, the principal?) be present.

With great power comes great responsibility. The fact that the superuser in an Unix environment has the ability to go snooping after the users it doesn’t mean (s)he should / would.