The student news site of Aspen High School

THE SKIER SCRIBBLER

The student news site of Aspen High School

THE SKIER SCRIBBLER

The student news site of Aspen High School

THE SKIER SCRIBBLER

A Watchful Eye: ASD Can Monitor All Internet Traffic

Students+browsing+on+ASD+WiFi+Networks+often+encounter+blocked+websites.
Owen Cruz-Abrams
Students browsing on ASD WiFi Networks often encounter blocked websites.

Digital privacy is foreign to many and yet applicable to all. In April 2023, Italy banned ChatGPT due to “a suspected breach of Europe’s strict privacy regulations.” The United States doesn’t have the same privacy regulations; some laws, such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), require schools to monitor student internet access – AHS is one of those schools.
“We have a web filter… But we also have words that are flagged,” said Kim Zimmer, Instructional Codirector of Learning and Innovation at ASD. “If someone were to do a web search on something that is a flagged word, we will get a notification that someone was searching on our school district internet Wi-Fi for this thing.”
Many students don’t know the extent of the school’s online monitoring capabilities. Zimmer pointed out that as a school under CIPA jurisdiction, AHS is required by law to ensure that students cannot access inappropriate sites but do not have to monitor internet access. Nonetheless, ASD’s second Technical Codirector of Learning and Innovation, Jason Pfeifer, pointed out that it is still possible to trace internet usage.
“Every device has an IP address, and so I could trace down that IP address and see exactly what that device has been doing on [our] network,” Pfeifer said.
Pfeifer also emphasized how unlikely it is that a student’s internet access is being actively monitored at a given time, as the school district lacks the technical staff needed to do so. However, to comply with CIPA, schools must filter internet access to prevent access to inappropriate content by minors on the Internet, which ASD does via its web filter. After the FCC’s 2011 update to their internet guidelines, all schools complying with CIPA must be able to view all student internet access. While the school may not actively monitor usage, Pfeifer’s method could be used to gain access to the history of any device using the network. This monitoring power is extended within school-provided Chromebooks.
Blocksi, a web extension installed on all ASD-provided computers, monitors and reports student computer usage. All K-8 students encounter this extension daily, in addition to the Wi-Fi monitoring the district has put in place for all students. Khalil Khan-Farooqi, sophomore at AHS, has used Blocksi for years.
“I was not sufficiently informed by the school of how internet access is monitored on the school WiFi, ” Khan-Farooqi said. “I believe that it is important that the school tells us these things because it otherwise could be seen as a violation of our privacy without our knowledge.”

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