Can my school monitor sites I’m on off of my home wifi on their school laptops that we take home?


Okay, so this year we were all given individual laptops for our school work, and we can take them home as well. What I’m wondering is, can they view the sites I look at while I’m at home, when I return to school? It’s not that I have something to hide, I just don’t enjoy the fact that they would be…

From a legal perspective, it’s a grey area. No laws prevent it.

From a technical perspective, of course the school could have installed something on the school’s property (the laptop assigned to you) to track how that property is used. There is software to do just that, and sales people for the companies that make it are sure to show it to the schools.

Monitoring software (there are different kinds of course) can monitor and save EVERYTHING that happens on the PC, every key, every website, every chat, etc. and then either save it locally on the PC or report it to a central server or website even.

The level and interest of this monitoring varies from district to district. Some schools are on record saying “no way do we want to have to manage all that information and legal problems”.

What does the school policy say about it? They may or may not have spelled out rules about it, but if they have then that is some indication of their intent.

I don’t track this subject specifically, but I do track internet security and privacy concerns (part of my job). I can tell you I have seen news and technical articles about schools having – and abusing, the monitoring software capabilities. By abusing, I mean the IT folks have the software setup in such a way that it violates school policy and possibly even the law. Some rental stores as well (you can rent laptops at the furniture rental stores, etc.).

One practical reason for “special monitoring” is to recover stolen and lost property… police have caught thieves because owners could remotely activate the webcam, etc. If the laptop is damaged or stolen do you guys have to pay for it?

My recommendation is look at it like this. The laptop is not yours, it is school property, right? So don’t use it for ANYTHING that you do not want your school system (teachers, administrators, etc.) to know about. If you assume it is monitored and you behave accordingly, you should avoid any hassles and problems. Who does not want to avoid hassles and problems? If there is monitoring software, I would not mess with it.

The property view may “suck” from some perspectives, but only if you look at it like it was “a free laptop for me” and ignore the fact that somebody else paid for it. I am not saying you think that way… just that I know lots of kids would say that.

It took the courts years to make solid decisions, etc. but they did eventually interpret the laws and how they apply to company equipment and employee use- so this is a similar area. My company can monitor my (company paid) phone to see when I use it, where I call, how long I call, etc. but not specifically to my conversation (unless they record them for quality purposes, etc.). Internet surfing comes down to details… what is the company policy, how is it done, etc. but yes possibly even when I am at home and not using the company network- it is still possibly subject to monitoring. That’s just the way it is. I always say If the reality is not to anyone’s liking- the alternative is spend your own money and buy your own stuff.

One point — Close the lid or cover the webcam when not in use, etc. if it has one. !!!

Best of luck with it.

There have been several court cases in the USA within the last two years of schools monitoring computer activity of it’s students.
Do yourself a favor and do one of two things:
A) Treat that laptop like hostile territory and consider everything you do as watched.
B) Head on over to Ubuntu.com download the Ubuntu Linux Live CD. Now when you use the school laptop make sure you put in the Ubuntu Live CD and boot to the CD. This create a full OS environment that resides only in memory and on the CD. Nothing is stored on the computer and custom school software will never been started. Enjoy. 🙂

We’ll most likely not, because unless they have installed spyware on the laptop or if you dont clear your internet history and cache. Otherwise, the school cannot track you on when you are using your home network. However, they could track your movements on the school’s wifi, but its not likely. If you are really paranoid, you could check the laptop for any spyware or monitoring software.

It’s possible. They’d have to be using additional monitoring software, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

They COULD do this. In fact, the monitoring software is an extension and could be used on any device signed in with your school-given email account. However, I have never seen my school punish a student for bad browsing.

Don’t forget to delete you browser’s cache (history). And check for any programs installed that look suspicious/don’t know what they do (if they are not good at hiding it, lol).

Probably not, unless they put some kind of spy ware on the laptop before you got it.

Yes, very easily

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