Secret Software Totally Kills Google Usefulness at School…and Home

Tea Smith, Staff Reporter

Technology is a huge part of our everyday lives and in recent years has become more prevalent in the schools, many assignments are given and expected to be turned in electronically. The technology we use in school is supposed to make getting assignments done easier but with some of the policies, not to mention the hidden software, students (and teachers) do not get to efficiently utilize the internet to its full potential. If school is really about making us “college and career ready” then how does censorship, surveillance and a “blocked” online user encounter accomplish that?

We all have Google accounts that are linked to IRCSD, but what actual purpose do they serve? The only thing you can actually use on the account is Google Drive, which some student cannot even access from home because they do not have internet access apart from the filtered version we get here at school. We cannot email anyone outside of the school, which limits basically the entire point of having email, and we cannot receive emails from anyone other than our teachers. In fact, if a senior wanted to use the school provided email address as a way for colleges to contact them, they couldn’t, which is ridiculous.

Lately, many students and teachers haven’t even been able to access Google from a lot of the school provided devices. We actually cannot access Google on machines that are literally powered by Google but I can access any other website that hasn’t been blocked (which if we’re being honest is not that many). That is absolutely ridiculous. Lately, you’re lucky if you don’t get the “Your connect is not private—attackers might be trying to steal your information” along with the error code NET: ERR_CERT_ AUTHORITY_INVALID.

The reason this is happening is that some “Lightspeed” Chrome Extensions are being “force” installed (sometimes on your personal devices) anytime you login to a school Google account…  I don’t remember signing a document okaying this. The extensions edit the registry of any Windows-based devices to “infect” the installation of Chrome. Saying that the browser has been infected is not inaccurate because unlike legit software add-ons, the files hide themselves. As long as you’re using an IRCSD account, you (and even teachers) can’t deactivate or remove them.

At press time, literally the only way around this on the $50? $75,000? worth of school Chromebooks is to “browse as guest” so the filtering and blocking extensions aren’t activated.  If that doesn’t prove they are a problem, then what will?

How exactly does this degree of censorship and restriction prepare us for life and careers after graduating? Because I am quite positive that unless you attend or work for IRCSD then you will have access to all content on the internet.

So the question remains: Who is making these policies, and why?  Is the school administration and Board of Education fully aware of how bad this situation is?