IRCSD Google Apps: A New Invasion of Privacy?

Z Goodman, Staff Reporter

Yesterday, at the end of ninth period I saw a notification on my phone. The notification pertained to my school email administered by Indian River School District. At first I ignored notification and tried to dismiss it, but the notification would not go away.

After sports practice, when I arrived home, I clicked the notification. When I clicked the notification, it took me to the app store where I was told to download Google Apps Device Policy. Blindly, I downloaded the app thinking that I would just have to click on “accept terms and conditions” and it would be over. However, that was not the end of that app. Directly after I downloaded the app all of the notifications that came up on my phone were saying that they were “private content” Prior to downloading this Google Apps Device Policy, I was able to view all of my notifications on my lock screen without this “private content” message being shown.

I initially thought that the mishap on my lock screen was my fault so I went into my settings and checked to see if I had changed something. When I went into my settings I noticed that nothing had changed, I then attempted to uninstall the app, which I was unsuccessful at. After sitting at my dining room table trying to figure out what to do I decided that I needed to logout of my school Google account. It was only after logging out of my school email, that I could deactivate and then uninstall the app and all of my notification settings went back to the way they were.

When I finally got the app uninstalled and everything was back to normal, I decided to read the comment section in the Google Web Store and see what other users had to say about the app. As I read the app reviews, I saw that people were also having problems with their phones and they also had trouble uninstalling the app. Others have described the app as “crazy” or a “complete waste of time”.

I read up on the app and I noticed that the app is set up by the administrator of the account, in my case being the Indian River Central School District.  The app has the power to block passwords, change passwords, and even–get this–remove content from MY device.

As of right now I can not use my school email on my phone without installing this app.  That is not only inconvenient, but lets some nameless school administrator decide how my stuff works on my device.

Having my school email is on my phone as a way for me to always see emails, the same way an adult professional would (just like a building principal right here at IRHS). I rarely ever use a computer to check my email in any situation. So this updated/changed “privacy policy” has been a great inconvenience for me, because without phone access, I must go out of my way to check my email on the computer in order to see updates for club meetings and other things. Something that I formerly could have found out immediately, with a quick notification on my phone, has now become hugely more time consuming.

Way to fix something that wasn’t broken, IRCSD. Who is making these decisions? Why aren’t they making them with input from students? (These are the kinds of things the Principal’s Advisory Committee could be asked about, if IRHS was actually serious about student input on policy changes, and if the principals in question actually knew the proposed changes ahead of time).

Let us know in the comments your thoughts on how the district is locking down everything Google.