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Monday, August 16, 2010

Big Brother at Your School: Check Tech Policy for UN Rights Violations

As you get ready to send your kids back to school (before Labor Day? far too early! it's still summer!), keep an eye out for those wordy Internet/Technology Use Agreements your kids will surely bring home for you to sign. Those are the hefty policies that basically say that if your kids touch a computer at school, the district owns their soul.

You might want to pay particular attention to the rules your school sets for monitoring your kids' computer usage at school, whether by spyware or even via webcam. As Web scholar Jill Walker Rettberg points out, your school may be violating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (to which, yes, the United States is a signatory). Walker Rettberg highlights these two relevant articles of the UNCRC:

13. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.

16. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

Does your child enjoy those freedoms? I know ours does... in home school.
Update 18:05 CDT: But oh my gosh: the kids are sexting! Aaaaccckk! Lock down all the computers! Confiscate all the cell phones!

Oh well: at least if they sext in a committed relationship, it won't hurt their grades.


  1. "III. f. Cryptographic software is prohibited by all individuals."

    Does that include Internet Explorer, given that it contains SSL/TLS support?

  2. Good point, Mike! Uh oh: looks like Office 2010 is out.

    But wait: such software is prohibited by all individuals, not to... ;-)

  3. Michael Black8/17/2010 10:30 AM

    You can save yourself grief by blocking texting or other enhanced services on your family's phones.


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