What happened when a parent fought for his kid's privacy at an all-Chromebook school

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Thanks for posting this. Our third-grader gets her first Chromebook this year, and I follow this issue with interest.


To be honest I am much more concerned about my son’s high schools’s ipad policy.


I’m totally against giving children computers in elementary school.

Children have to develop their critical and empathy skills before giving them access to unlimited bullshit.


America’s public schools, leading the way in legal child trafficking.


Uh I dunno if you guys actually read the EFF’s “recommended” chromebook settings – but stuff like:

  • don’t remember any passwords
  • don’t retain any cookies after closing the browser

are going to make that kid’s online experience a living hell. Is that the goal? I get the concerns about Google storing advertising profiles on a kid, but after reading both articles, overall this smells a bit like helicopter parenting to me.


SOP for me, plus I use https everywhere, privacy badger, and noscript. Doesn’t seem remotely hellish.


I recommend not using a Chromebook.


Sounds pretty hellish to me. Or at least really exasperating.


Honestly, browser settings like that (never store cookies, never remember password), all they will do is drive kids away from the web into completely proprietary app containers on their smartphones.

So, good luck policing the walled app garden you’ve driven kids into, EFF. Mission… accomplished?

I donate to the EFF monthly but this is some seriously misguided advice.



What is it about those settings that will ‘drive kids away’?

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How many times a day do you log in to your smartphone? Having to log into the same website multiple times a day, or every day, is onerous.

I’ve often thought that a non-trivial part of the success of Facebook is that you only ever log into one ginormous domain at facebook.com – like the bad old days of AOL. And since they hold that cookie you can now “like” anything that has a facebook like action embedded on it, no matter what website you are on.

Like I said. The web is one thing, but good luck policing that black-box smartphone app ecosystem that you accidentally drove kids into, EFF. Not that they needed much more encouragement since they’re well on the way there already, I guess. Bring on the inevitable! I hope whatsapp and snapchat have a “privacy” section in their settings.


Are there not secure password apps that could be used for this kind of thing?

If teaching kids computer skills is a valid endeavour… isn’t teaching them about security equally as important?

Ninja: Concerning walled gardens, I would be and am very effusive about recommending to friends and family that they don’t post or say anything in those walled gardens that they wouldn’t want to shout in public. Initially met, a few years ago, with disbelief but as more and more security breaches and privacy impinging uses of data becoming the norm, it’s not so disbelieved any more.

Perhaps there is a middle ground between ‘just hand it over, why even try security’ and ‘fuck off to your walled gardens kiddies!’ ?

ETA: I should say (emphasise), I’m all for not pushing people towards those walled gardens, so am in total agreement with you there. Don’t want you to think I’m being especially combative with you, considering our last little tete a tete.

But out of the two of us, you are the tech boffin, I’m a little troubled you see it so black and white.


So do some folk really not understand annoyance they promote in general? Or do they just not care?


Dude, I routinely nuke everything but my bookmarks on everything in my network and I use separate apps for log-ins on everything including both of my rooted phones. If you don’t want to, be my guest. But it’s a little extra effort for a lot more privacy.

The only danger I see is if kids make the mistake of using vulnerable passwords. I recommend random ascii strings.

ETA: And before you tell me why that’s not any safer on a Chromebook, let me refer you to my recommendation not to use Chromebooks (or phones that haven’t been jailbroken).

Stay or leave, it’s all the same to me. Here’s the door:


Can they use Adblock?

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What choice of tech would EFF recommend schools use, then? Ipads? Good luck keeping kids on task. Big hulking Lenovo laptops like the one I’m issued at work? Who pays for those, and who installs the drivers on each one, who supports students when they don’t print, etc? Let’s remember that elementary school students aren’t just small grownups who will responsibly seek tech help the first moment their device stops working. And honestly I was happy that my child felt surveilled when using school technology. That meant actually finishing homework assignments instead of clicking through to the related video. It wouldn’t be wise for me to expect all my actions to be private when I use use my company’s technology, either.
I’m usually an EFF fan but in this case my sympathy goes to the tech people for the school district who had to make time to deal with this case, in addition to all the other problems that come up when students are required to use technology before they’ve mastered basic academic skills.


Fair enough. We hope to teach our kids to think for themselves. If you rely on the assimilation farms for their development, I can see how obedience to the collective is part and parcel.


New math?

Less jokingly, I think it’s an apropos term for the modern American public school system. If you’re not beholden to it, congratulations!

Regarding the xkcd you referenced then deleted, I totally agree. Arbitrage potential is exactly how Google and the like see these kids. Buy 'em young, own them for life. I was not joking about the legal child trafficking. I wish I was.

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