School Does Not Allow Alternate Web Browsers on our Chromebooks

privacy
technology
education
ad-tech
#21

Right now we are not in a position to lobby politically but educating districts yes definitely!!

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#22

I was thinking like a PTA organization of some kind already active!

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#23

I forgot my school computer at home yesterday, and man it was a disaster. I could not participate in like 4/6 of my classes and ended up behind on a lot of my work. I never realized how dependent I am on this device for education.

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#24

Yikes, a horror story.

In my office (I work at a university), you need your phone to log in to your email because of enhanced security measures. You choose between (1) having the email client (Google app for education) call you and (2) typing in a passcode sent to your phone.

At first this aggravated me several times a day, but people must have complained loudly. Now you only need it now and then. How the app decides when that is is a mystery, but it seems to me it’s a couple times a week.

I know that at ‘Iolani, a private school for grades K–12, students have been given ipads. A good friend of mine, one of the oldest and most highly respected teachers at the school, decries the intrusion of tech into education. As with my university, the head of the school is a tech person.

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#25

I am also unable to download many chrome extensions that would secure my data like Privacy Tools. I don’t know what to do. I looked up ways to get around the admin on the computer, and they involve opening up the back of the computer. I’m not trying to get in trouble right before I graduate, however ( haha ).

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#26

You already did a lot to protect your privacy, I gather, but maybe this article (though a bit old already) contains more tips for you:

Here is a very elaborate report by EFF about privacy and student edtech programs involving Google:

Searching with DDG I see there has been a lot of controversy in the US about the introduction of Chromebooks in schools, and well warranted I think. It is a nightmare to use tools that (possibly) have enormous privacy implications… things can be better or worse depending on what your school is also doing in terms of monitoring. They should have their policies well documented and available on request.

I can only give the advice I gave earlier: To limit the activities you do on that laptop as much possible. Only do school-related stuff and prepare whatever you can on your own personal laptop and then transfer, copy/paste.

There is an opportunity for you and your fellow students to tackle this as a humane tech project: Research all the information that is collected by Google and your school and document best-practices and methods to safeguard your privacy as much as possible. And you could contact organisations like EFF directly and ask them about current status of things.

Edit: Think I send you this link before, but just in case:

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Google docs- are they secure and/or privacy-respecting?
#27

I have been looking for something like this for some time! Thank you so much!

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#28

I was very surprised to find that my school disabled some of the functions recommended here to protect my privacy, and will not let me edit them. I did what I could and got HTTPS Everywhere so I feel better. Scary to realize my computer automatically had access to my location for the last four years and I was not notified by my school. I think I’m going to make some sort of shortened list of Chromebook settings and extensions for other people and parents.

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#29

Did you try to use any VPN extension on your Chromebook? Since it cannot download any software, so I recommend searching for some in the Chrome Store.

Also, who gives out Chromebooks in schools? Don’t you need to run some good power sucking programs in your studies like AutoCAD or stuff.

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#30

The VPN extension is blocked, unfortunately.

The second question you asked is exactly what me, the CS, and the Video Game design departments have been wondering for the last four years. We joke that they are not “real” computers. I have reached out to my school multiple times, but they don’t seem to care much. (I think they got a good deal on Chromebooks or something).

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#31

One thing more you could try is to install F-Droid, a FOSS alternative to Google Play, that only offers other FOSS apps. I don’t know how this fits in with other software on your ChromeOS, so may not solve your issues, but you may find some good alternative apps. I use F-Droid on my Samsung mobile as the preferred appstore.

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#32

Not directly related, just wished to share how hard it is get a personal laptop that is entirely built on open hardware spec, without restricted boot added by manufacturer, with libre bios, and doesn’t require proprietary drivers and can run fully free as in libre OS like https://trisquel.info GNU/Linux which doesn’t have any proprietary blobs in the kernel.

I need buy a new laptop but still searching (for long time) here in India as it’s not reasonable for me to pay shipping to India for something like Purism/system76/others laptops and most laptops sold here have restricted boot installed in them for m.s windows support which also comes preinstalled and need proprietary drivers.

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#33

Gokul, Purism comes closest that I know of.

https://puri.sm

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#34

Yes, however as I mentioned in my post, for purism paying for shipping to India too costly when I consider that laptop itself is not a cheap one. :confused:

I saw the pine laptop hardware project, maybe I’ll try applying for a model as they sell it as subsidized not-for-profit models although I need to find out if shipping $ will be high for it too (though they ship out from China)

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#35

Siddhi, if you are a bit adventurous, you could try to install Crouton on your Chromebook, and then use that to install an alternative OS next to Chrome OS.

This requires some tech-saviness though, and reading carefully before acting about what it entails and pros, cons, etc. One thing in the article that may be of help with your Chromebook, regardless of the Crouton install, is the instruction on how to turn your laptop in Developer mode (effectively ‘rooting’ it), which may allow you to install some of the other software that you were previously prohibited from installing. Note, I didn’t try any of this and read fleetingly, as I don’t own a Chromebook and have no way to test / verify at all.

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#36

I am excited to try this when I return to school.

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