Track Students to Combat Cyber Bullying?

Cyber bullying has become a major issue in recent years and the debate on how to handle this issue has become increasingly important. Is it a parent’s job to monitor their kids’ social media accounts or should public school systems get involved? Many people believe there needs to be a balance between parental monitoring and school involvement. Students need to be protected from online dangers but there privacy also needs to be protected.


The Glendale school district in Los Angeles hired a tech firm, Geo Listening, to monitor students’ social networking sites for keywords related to cyber bullying, drug use and school violence. They can see exactly what they have typed, where they have been and what they have been doing. “These could be posts that are initiated from school, or not; using school-owned technology, or not. The technology also allows for the flagging and reporting of drug use or class-cutting – or really anything publicly posted by a student that could be viewed as problematic to the school”, said Justin W. Patchin.


This program may be increasing the schools sense of security but it is making the students feel like their privacy and security has been taken away. “..but students will feel their speech chilled knowing that the school district is watching,” said Anupam Chander. Students may behave differently online if they know that school officials are watching everything they do. This may be a good thing but it will most likely have negative side effects.


According to CNN’s Kelly Wallace, it has cost the Glendale school district 40,500 dollars annually to monitor all of their students’ social media sites. Is this an appropriate place to put school resources? Forty thousand dollars could be used for several other programs in the school system such as programs to educate parents and students about the Internet in general, but specifically social media. If parents are more aware of the social media sites their children are using they can more effectively regulate and monitor them without a lot of school interference. Also, if students are taught how to behave in an appropriate manner online by their parents and by school officials it will reduce incidents of cyber bullying. It is understandable that this is a big job for parents but it will require less invasive measures from school officials to prevent cyber bullying.


However, it is not reasonable to say that school monitoring to combat cyber bullying is ineffective because it has not been in place or researched for a long enough period of time. In the instance that it does stop or reduce school violence and self-harm significantly, the money invested in the tech firm may be worthy in the eyes of most.


The main issue with tracking students is the violation of privacy. “It’s students’ expression of their own thoughts and feelings to their friends,” said Young Cho, student at Herbert Hoover High School to the Los Angeles Times, “For the school to intrude in that area – I understand they can do it, but I don’t think it’s right.”


Many people, especially students, feel as if it is an invasion of their right to privacy. However, many would argue that if students are posting to public websites anyways it doesn’t matter if the school chooses to monitor their posts. At my high school there was an employee who was hired to monitor our social media accounts in order to maintain school security. I never felt like my privacy was being violated because any time I posted on social media I was aware that anyone, including my school officials, could see it. It all depends on the person and how educated they are about the Internet and social media.


In conclusion, tracking and monitoring students to combat serious issues, such as bullying and other violence can be effective if it is used under the right circumstances. The information would need to be highly secure with access granted to a minimal amount of people. It would need to be deleted after a certain number of days. Students and parents would also need to be aware of the monitoring. In addition to schools monitoring for keywords and phrases on social media sites, it is equally important for the school system to educate students on privacy issues and the dangers of bullying on the Internet (and in reality). The answer is not a clear cut yes or no because this issue is a lot more complicated than that. Students’ privacy is at risk when using a system like this but their safety is at risk if nothing is done about the issue.


List of Resources:








Do Not Track: Do We Need It?

Privacy advocates state that there should be a “Do Not Track” system, that forbids the collection of certain information and allows a user to option out of any methods of  tracking. There are two sides to every argument with legitimate concerns that people with different world views prioritize to differing degrees. At first glance, one may approve for the need of FTC mandating internet. For some, it feels like a violation to be treated as a mere object of commerce others worry that data about their interests will be used to discriminate wrongly against them or to exclude them from information and opportunities they should enjoy. Those who argue we do not need the DNT system believe excess customization of the Web experience may structure society. There is a nice thought  that as a nation our, privacy rights would be restored, however we cannot forget how many loopholes, contracts, network service providers benefits will come about a DNT law. The ultimate question is  what is  privacy?” Everyone has their own take on “privacy,” all we can do is be smart about how and who we provide our information to, take responsibility and control, that’s the closest to freedom  and privacy we can get, without the need of a DNT system.

DNT is not needed in terms of businesses and advertising, Internet tracking has many advantages, including allowing businesses and advertisers to convey more convenient and relevant advertising, services and cost savings to Internet users, however if ad networks sold personal and contact info, it would undercut its advertising business and its own profitability, however they can still trade the information. Most websites such as Facebook, Yahoo, MSN and thousands of blogs, news sites, and comment boards use advertising to support what they do, using cookies to track one’s Internet usage. Google for example, spends millions and millions of dollars on free services like its search engine, Gmail, mapping tools, Google Groups and more where the ultimate result is  personalized advertising.

Marketers will pay more to reach you if you are likely to use their products  in  the business of online advertising the model code is to sell space to advertisers—giving them access to people based on their demographics and interests.

A working group of industry representatives, advertisers, online businesses and privacy advocates  known as The W3C Tracking Protection Working Group, have been working for two years to expand an agreed upon policy and procedure for the need of a DNT system, but have been unable to reach any conclusion. 2012  Eric Wheeler  “Do Not Track”  is Poised to Kill Online Growth, argues the rumors ran that the DNT would be in action starting in the year 2013 there were no specifics as to who and what this DNT system would represent and “poison.” Wheeler argues that it would be so effective,

That it should strike fear into the hearts of every company that does business online — particularly startups, but also the Googles and Facebooks of the world.

According to the article,

The FTC was likely to go beyond the boundaries of privacy and easily opt out of receiving any such market ads including ones from companies and ad networks. Any allied company would cease to collect anonymous user data or coerce browsers to prevent tracking by default, this statement may sound beneficial.

Wheeler says,

The practical implications of such regulations would be devastating — not just for advertisers and the online publishers who depend on their money, but for the technology industry and economy as a whole.

Wheeler implies that consumers themselves would end up suffering to a need for the DNT System. The gain of  “privacy”  would be at the cost of online subscription fees, less interesting and innovative online experiences, and less relevant advertising. The results to DNT would lead  to a confusing, overboard, opt-in mechanisms on every Website visited. As Wheeler states,

We are headed for what feels like an anti-Internet, not a privacy movement.

The article by Jim Harper,  ‘It’s a Modern Trade: Web Users Get as Much as They Get as Much as They Give’ starts with

Many people are concerned and dismayed—even shocked—when they learn that “their” data are fuel for the World Wide Web.

Harper  is not so much taken aback by the FTC wanting to mandate the need for DNT, but rather says that society should stop being such cry babies and learn to better control our information. Harper does not agree with tracking one’s information, but he doesn’t agree with FTC wanting to mandate the need for DNT either.

Rather than indulging the natural reaction to say “stop,” people should get smart and learn how to control personal information. Every visit to a website sends information out before it pulls information in. And the information Web surfers send out can be revealing.

All this brings back information from one of the readings done in class titled, “NSA Prism program taps into the user data of Apple, Google and others.” The NSA obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other U.S. internet giants, this access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism. Prism allows officials to collect material such as search history, content of emails, file transfers and live chats.

PRISM is an easier method of  extensive, in-depth surveillance of live communications and stored information.

Prism according to the law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, Americans whose communications include people outside the US and also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US to be  collected without warrants. The new tracking method  PRISM emphasizes a need for DNT, creating more fears into people of their information being tracked to the point where apparently it can be collected without the use of a warrant.

In the end, one is responsible for their privacy and the actions they take upon it. Whether one agrees or disagrees  with  the need of the FTC mandating a  DNT system is an individual decision. Excess customization of the Web experience may structure  society. For those who seek a need for DNT, there are services and behaviors that can be avoided to not be tracked within one’s own terms. Once can make the effort in taking responsibility and control of the information they choose to share and post. Such methods include paying for security devices for network and online services, using a PO box and other such behaviors that can limit  information from being gathered.  Resisting the need for the DNT System, allows for one to be independent, in control of their information, allowing individuals to retain their personal liberties. 




Week 14 – News Digest

Russian website streams thousands of private webcams

November 20, 2014: 10:04 AM ET


In Russia, a team of hackers formed a website that streams live video footage from thousands of private webcams around the world. In some of the live footage, the hackers have streamed babies in cribs sleeping and patients at hospitals. The hackers have been able to get into the private cameras so easily because the cameras passwords were the default passwords set by their manufacturers. After the hackers gained the passwords, they would post the log-in information to their website to anyone who wanted to access the unsecured webcams. The owners of the cameras have installed them to try to increase their security, but the Russian hackers have provided public access to them which reveals some of the owners intimate moments. The website so far, has revealed 4,600 live streams in the United States, 2,000 in France, 1,500 in the Netherlands. Each link to a camera provided you the GPS location, postcode, time zone, and a map showing where its exact location is. Apparently, the websites motive is to bring more awareness to the problem and that it should be addressed.


Cellphone tracking: Find an address? Easy. But new devices can calculate your altitude.

November 19 at 9:00 PM

For the longest time cellphones have acted as tracking devices that reveal your location to police, paramedics, and other people. But there is one form of tracking that has been a challenge for cellphone engineers to provide until now, which is altitude. Soon it will be possible to not only see what building you are in but also the exact floor you’re currently on. This new technology has positive effects, like helping a fire rescue team find the exact location a person is in a building engulfed in flames. But many privacy advocates believe intelligence agencies like the FBI, CIA, etc and hackers could use this to track you. Many lobbyists have gotten into a political fight between some public safety groups supporting the FCC’s strict rules and wireless carriers that want to slow down the process of cellphone technology.


Amnesty releases anti-spying program for activists

19 November 2014

A international company called Amnesty has released a program that allows the detection of spying software that governments use to keep tabs on activists and political opponents. Amnesty said that many governments have been using a sophisticated spying tools that could grab images from webcams or listen to microphones to monitor people. They used tools that are marketed on how it’s able to get around your standard anti-virus. The makers of the spying software did strenuous testing to ensure that the way they sneaked around on a computer didn’t trigger security alerts. But now since Amnesty has created the anti-spying software called Detekt, the government will have to think twice about what activists they are trying to peruse. As of right now, Detekt is free and the first version has been written to run on Window computers because the people being monitored mostly use that software. The trade in spyware that’s used by governments around the world is now a market worth about $5 billion a year and Amnesty believed it was time for the trade to be better regulated.


NSA Director confirms that China and other countries can hack and shut down critical systems

Published November 20, 2014

The NSA director, Admiral Michael Rogers has stated that China and one or two other countries in the world could possibly start a cyber attack that can terminate the electric grid in different places of the United States.  The theory of such cyber attacks by these foreign hackers has been known for a long period of time, but has never been confirmed to the nation by our NSA director until now. The adversaries are constructing electronic “reconnaissance”  on a daily basis so when the perfect time comes to attack, they can shut down industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants. But it seems if this would happen, there would be a mutual deterrence, because the U.S. has enough Cyber Command officials to do the same thing to China.


Democrats on House oversight panel ask when data breach was discovered, how it was fixed

Published November 17, 2014

Democrats have demanded answers this past week about a potential cyber-attack that shut down the State’s Department’s unclassified email system. The letter was sent to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting details and when it was first discovered. Apparently, the email system was still down a day after the department disabled it over a breach several weeks ago which was led to believe it was to target the White House. Now the State Department has said two breaches now appear to be in scandal. Investigations are still being made to find who or what launched the attack.

News Digest

Domestic Drones: Report Exposes Expansion of Surveillance Flights

November 14, 2014

The American government has expanded the use of drones along the border of Mexico without informing the public about it very much. Drones stretch across the almost 2,000 mile border, and are monitoring everything. Many people have been concerned about drones and how they are used. Some think that it puts the nation at risk for becoming surveyed too much, and constantly being watched. This secret border patrol program has sent at least 10,000 drones on missions since March of 2013. The ACLU is against this use of drones. They say that if we continue then it will “profoundly change the character of public life in America.” We are slowly moving towards a society where every move we make is surveyed. The executive director of national air security says that we shouldn’t worry right now because the drones can’t recognize many details. They can’t register faces or license plates.

LAPD Technology That Tracks Ex-Cons Stirs Concerns

November 14, 2014

The LAPD relies on a lot of technology to catch criminals. So far, they say that it has decreased the amount of crime in the city. The federal government just gave them $400,000 to improve their program even more. They have named the program and technology LASER. The CIA developed the technology. Officials from around the country have been briefed on this program, and are looking into using it. The program has proved that it definitely lowers crime in places that it is being used compared to places that aren’t using it, but privacy advocates aren’t sure that’s enough. The problem is that it risks targeting minorities, and also puts some bias on those who have already committed crimes. Some think that information on an individual she be gotten rid of is they haven’t committed a crime in over 6 months, but there isn’t any rule for that.

Americans Fear Eroding Policy Online

November 12, 2014

This article is about a study that was released on Wednesday. It showed that Americans are very concerned about there privacy online and digitally. Most Americans associated privacy with security. If they didn’t feel like something was secure, then they didn’t think that they had any privacy. They don’t control what companies collect, and what they do with it. The study asked people about their confidence in landline phones, mobile phones, text messages, email, instant messaging, and social media. All of them scored very low.   The highest one was landline phones, but only 16% of people had confidence in it. Most people are concerned about their social security number, and things like that, but not many were concerned with things like their political views or their personal shopping habits. The study didn’t see if Americans were changing their behavior, but it showed that many are concerned about their privacy.

Watch What Happens When a Photographer Secretly Taps into Public Surveillance Cameras

November 13, 2014

A photographer hacked into a networked CCTV camera to spy on people that didn’t know. He wanted to give people an idea about how modern surveillance doesn’t give you a lot of privacy on an artistic way. He realized that many cameras didn’t have passwords and started hacking into things like parking lot cameras. He eventually found the camera that he liked the best. The camera could pan, zoom in, and adjust the exposure. He says that he didn’t hack into anything because it was accessible to the public. He noticed people patterns, and the pictures he took weren’t clear enough to see their face so it left some anonymity. He wanted to expose what the security cameras see all the time, and show us what they saw.

Fed Up With Dragnet Government Surveillance

November 13, 2014

‘Fed up with dragnet government surveillance’

This article is about a new way to send email without it being read by Yahoo, Google, Apple, the government, or hackers. A new, private, email service, called, encrypts your emails. There has been a lot of interest in this already. This website is supposed to make it easy to encrypt everything for you. It makes encryption available to those who don’t really know how to do it.   There is no advertising revenue for in the company so they make their profit from subscriptions. As soon as this takes off, millions of people’s emails will suddenly become private and secure.

Regulating the Internet of Things

Imagine this: It’s 2007 and you are Dick Cheney. You have just gotten a heart defibrillator to help with your irregular heart rate and rhythm. It turns out that your defibrillator is wirelessly connected to the Internet, which allows your doctor to monitor you from remote locations. Now this might become a problem considering you’re the vice president of the United States and now have something implanted in your body that has the potential to be hacked into, and possibly used to stalk, injure, or even kill you. (For further information look here.) The issues in heart defibrillators themselves are not incredibly worrisome, as Barnaby J. Feder discusses in this article. The larger issue that presents itself is the Internet of Things as a whole, which is why I believe the FTC should regulate it.

The Internet of Things, also known as the “world’s nervous system”, is a mass of web connected sensors and controllers. Essentially, the Internet of Things can receive inputs form the physical environment and act on them (for example, the sensors might detect a sound, and the controllers might act on those senses.) Massive amounts of data can be collected through the Internet of Things, presenting quite a few issues (which are the reasons I think it should be regulated.)

First, data is often collected without consent. One huge example is the first story Edward Snowden revealed. Basically, the NSA was given the authority to collect months worth of Verizon subscribers’ data without them knowing about it. This obviously poses a huge issue, as people were unaware that their data was being collected. Although some people are now aware that all cell phone companies are required to give some data they’ve collected to the government, many still are not. And even more concerning, unless the Internet of Things begins to be regulated, no one is regulating whether or not companies are telling their consumers what information they are collecting about them.

Another example I came across was about the FTC regulating the Internet of Things, including your car. One of the problems associated with this situation, as well as other similar situations, is that personal information will be shared. As the geolocation of motor vehicles is collected, information is also being collected about the consumer. It will be known precisely where and when the consumer is going, and businesses would easily be able to sell this information to data brokers, who in turn would be able to resell the information to different businesses. Collecting this information can also have effects on the price of insurance and the security of connected cars.

The second reason I think regulating the Internet of Things is a good idea is that the information these companies and organizations are collecting can actually be very dangerous to the consumer. If the FTC isn’t regulating the security of the information being collected, who knows what information is going where. People can steal information, and when there is a lot of information stored about many consumers, it poses a threat to all of them. This can also be the case with more private information like home security systems, which would possibly pose an even greater threat to the individual.

Although I believe regulating the Internet of Things is the best thing to do, it would also be a very difficult task. Regulating the Internet of Things would cost time and money that isn’t currently being spent on it, and it may be difficult to do. Even if regulation of the Internet of Things is implemented, should consumers have the right to opt out of data collection? Or should it be mandatory? There are definitely pros and cons of regulating the Internet of Things.

The FTC is here to protect our privacy and ensure consumer protection. If the FTC were to adopt regulations governing how data from inanimate objects is collected, used, stored and accessed, we, as citizens of the United States, would be more fully protected. In Alice E. Marwick’s article titled How Your Data Are Being Deeply Mined (a reading from earlier this year), she makes the point that people who are concerned with privacy matters must “continue to demand that checks and balances be applied to these private corporations…While closer scrutiny of the NSA is necessary and needed, we must apply equal pressure to private corporations to ensure that seemingly harmless targeted mail campaigns and advertisements do not give way to insidious and dangerous violations of personal privacy.” Marwick also makes the point that technology is changing faster than our current consumer protection laws, which means the FTC adopting new regulations is important and crucial if something like that were to be effective. Ultimately, I believe the benefits of regulating the Internet of Things outweighs the cons, and the FTC should begin regulating in order to ensure the safety of the consumer.


  3. The New York Review of Books: How Your Data Are Being Deeply Mined by Alice E. Marwick


Week 11 News Digest

Police in RVA scanning license plates; some raising privacy concerns



This article is in response to the increased use of License Plate Readers, or LPRs, by police all over the country. They are mounted on to most police cruisers and are used to help solve crimes. Although, many people would argue that these are an invasion of privacy. Chesterfield police state that none of the information collected by the LPRs is uploaded anywhere and that it is deleted after 30 days. According to state law in Virginia, the information collected by this technology is not allowed to be stored over the long term for any purpose. After this ruling state police purged its database of millions of license plate records. There are several police agencies I Northern Virginia that feel like they do not have to abide by this ruling. The article discusses how there should be a common set of rules about the storage of this data for all police agencies using the LPR technology.



Harvard secretly photographed students to study attendance



Harvard University recently revealed that they completed a study in which they photographed over 2,000 students on their way to several lecture halls in order to study attendance. Many students and faculty are upset about the study because they believe it was an invasion of privacy. The students and faculty were neither informed before the study nor during the study. It is discussed that the use of cameras around the university are accepted when the reason for them is safety. However, being monitored by a camera that takes an image every minute without consent is an invasion of privacy in the eyes of most students at Harvard.


Tricked by Verizon into giving up cellphone privacy



This article discusses how company, Verizon Wireless, tricks their customers into a program called Verizon Selects that is used for marketing. Verizon Selects collects information on online browsing, physical location and apps. Their rewards program called Verizon Smart Rewards is how they lure you into applying for Verizon selects. By signing up for the rewards program you also have to sign up for Verizon Select. Many consumers are unaware what they are signing up for and don’t realize what kinds of information they are giving up by not fully understanding the fine print. The article brings the idea to attention that companies should be more straightforward about the information they are collecting about you and what it is used for.



Home Depot hackers used vendor log-on to steal data, e-mails



Home Depot announced in September that a breach to their system had compromised over 56 million customer’s credit and debit card information. After further investigation of the attack it was revealed that over 53 million emails were also compromised. The company is notifying affected customers and offering credit monitoring. The hackers used a vendor’s log in credentials to access the information. Today’s security systems in place to prevent attacks like this have been very ineffective. Cyber criminals are advancing much faster than the security technology is which poses a threat to all of our personal information that we trust companies, like Home Depot, to keep safe.



Companies Are Spending More on Customer Privacy but It’s Uneven: Survey



This article questions the fact that many companies state that they are doing everything possible to protect customer information. A study of Fortune 1000 companies showed that there is a rise in how much companies are spending on consumer privacy but it is very uneven among the companies. The idea of investing money in privacy is fairly new to companies but it has become very important because of the recent hacks on large companies such as Target and Home Depot. Forty percent of the companies surveyed stated that they plan to increase their spending on privacy protection significantly in the next year.

National DNA database: Sound policy?

Every living person has DNA. Even though humans share 99.9% of that DNA, that .1% in each person is enough to make us each unique. That uniqueness is also enough for the FBI to profile criminals. In 1998, the FBI introduced the National DNA Index System (NDIS) for law enforcement purposes1. This system is the FBI equivalent of similar systems that were being used by 41 states and Great Britain going back to seven years. Legally, the FBI can only catalogue DNA that’s been obtained from criminals, crime scenes, and unidentified human remains. This has proven to be an effective system in solving a number of crimes, but can it be an effective system in preventing future lawbreakers from causing harm?

The idea is that there can be a database that holds the DNA of every U.S. citizen from birth. Currently, genetic cataloguing is only permitted for the NDIS for criminal investigations, but there is potential for a system that documents the genetic code for each and every citizen. I see that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in the idea of a public database. The system would function similar to current birth certificates and social security numbers. A newborn is processed at birth, and he or she can use that information later in life to prove he or she is a citizen. It’s only another form of documentation.

Although I find the benefits obvious, some people would be reluctant for such a system to exist. And they’re not wrong to be reluctant. A person’s DNA is his and his alone. Even if that person were to somehow clone himself, he and his clone would still be affected by epigenetics. This is information that a person may want to keep private. At the moment, unless that person is suspected of a crime, that information will be protected.

The key word there is suspected. The DNA databases currently in the world are mostly run by government agencies that are built around taking down criminals. They are able to gain access it an innocent person’s DNA with a warrant2. For instance, if a person is suspected of a crime, but the police can’t find enough evidence for a warrant, they can possible retrieve another warrant for a completely different crime and take that persons DNA. They can then use that DNA for the first case. The issue here is that innocent people will have their DNA in a system that’s shared with criminals. This may send the wrong message about a person if someone finds out that they’re in this database.

Currently, there are some policies to remove a person’s genetic information from a database3. In 2008, after a juvenile in the U.K. fought to have his information removed from a database, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that genetic information storage was a violation was a violation of privacy.  The U.K. was required to purge the information from their database, with the conditions that people not convicted with DNA evidence have their information purged immediately and criminals have their information purged five years after a case.

The big problem with this case is that it only pertains to databases that collect criminal DNA, not that every citizen of a nation. People wouldn’t have their information automatically purged after a period of time. If anything, a public database would act similar to electronic medical records4. Currently, medical providers are switching to electronic systems to transfer medical data, and a big concern is how much control the patients have over this data. Anybody with permission to access the system can view this data. A public DNA database will behave similarly, giving access to genetic information to anyone with permission.

How easy would it be for a corporation to get permission for this system? If a drug company gained access, they would have the genetic records of everyone in the system’s country. They could then target individuals with ads based on the composition of their DNA. If a person’s DNA shares traits with other genetic information that indicates a person may have diabetes, that person may be spammed with adverts for blood strips and insulin.

And let’s say that everyone has access to the system, no matter who they are. Companies would obviously target everyone, but there is a more extreme example that could come out of this. There was a movie in 1997 called Gattaca that had a social class system based on DNA. People with “inferior DNA” are on the lower classes and people with “superior DNA” are on the upper classes. This is an extreme example, but some aspects may appear in the real world. Health insurance providers may base policies on genetic structure. People could look at your DNA to determine ethnicity, and may profile a person based off of it. Maybe in another extreme example, someone would base their decision to marry based on the partner’s genetic background.

The last examples may never happen, since a public DNA database would have to be absolutely public, allowing anyone to see information. But some fears of such a database can hold true. The major point to remember is that, similar to medical records and financial histories, a DNA database is a database of personal information. It can be beneficial for documentation, though it is a large chunk of information that some people may not be comfortable having stored in a single place. Genetic information is unique to every person, so it should be dealt with in a precious manner.