Opinion | Welcome to the K-12 Surveillance State

Continuing on this theme, our trip to the archives takes us back to January 1985 to a story about a Supreme Court ruling on student privacy. It’s a great historical primer that shows, as the archives tend to show, how little our biggest debates change over the years:
“Students in school as well as out of school are ‘persons’ under our Constitution and are possessed of fundamental rights which the state must respect,” the Court held in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. Young people do not, it stated, “shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”
The piece shows how this stuff gets thorny quickly. The 1985 case describes how “the Court ruled for the first time that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure applied to schoolchildren.” But there’s nothing straightforward about the law when it comes to the definition of unreasonable:
“‘Reasonable suspicion’ in the courts is no more than a hunch, and I don’t think this is an appropriate standard when student rights are involved,” said Gerald Lefcourt, a New York lawyer who handles many search-and-seizure cases. “If school officials take an aggressive approach, students’ privacy rights will almost evaporate.”

I suggest reading the whole piece .

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Tip of the Week: How to Fool Always Tracking Advertisers

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that you’re being tracked everywhere online to serve up targeted (read: relevant) advertisements. Since this sort of monitoring is baked into the core of web-browsing architecture, there’s not a lot you can do (you can go ‘Incognito’ and clear cookies or use an ad blocker). Which is why I enjoyed this experiment in online civil disobedience from researchers at Mozilla. It’s called “Hey, Advertisers, Track This!” and it’s designed to scramble the brains of the myriad ad trackers that monitor your every move.
The experiment, which you can do for yourself here, allows you to choose from one of four fake user profiles (Hypebeast, Influencer, Doomsday and Filthy Rich). Then it launches 100 (yes, 100) tabs in your browser that are designed to make your browsing behavior look like one of its stereotypical profile types. For example, picking Influencer will launch dozens of tabs with Amazon searches for holistic remedies, pages for meditation apps and other online New Age goodies.

Once the tabs open, you can close out of the window or delete them individually. If it’s successful, the ads that follow you around the internet should change drastically. The hope, according to Mozilla, is to “throw off brands who want to advertise to a very specific type of person.”

A few days ago I tried this for myself. Before the experiment I was getting a lot of tech-related ads for services like Google Fi and Verizon (there were also, somewhat inexplicably, a lot of ads for what appeared to be baggy hemp and linen clothes for women over 30). I dialed up the “Track This!” page and chose Doomsday. I let the cascade of prepper tabs wash over me like an early-aughts Alex Jones monologue. In an instant I navigated to a dozen Amazon pages for products like the Emergency Zone Urban Survival 72-Hour Bug Out bag. There were searches for water purification tablets, survivalist tutorials and a few Home Depot links for “outside equipment.”

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