Schools are starting to track kids using their own smartphones.
We break down how this works and whether or not you should be concerned.
Stick around for your daily charge.
Welcome to daily charge.
It's Tuesday, February 25.
I'm Roger Chang.
I'm Alfred Wang.
And here today's headlines.
At least 10 schools across the US have rolled out a system that tracks and potentially surveil students using the signals from their phones.
How does this work?
All right, so you ever been to a mall and, they hate malls?
No okay, so you've never been to enough.
So there are these things called radio frequency scanners that pick up signals on your phones that are things like your Bluetooth signal your Wi Fi signal In some cases like you sell frequency signal.
And it uses that as a location tracker instead, right.
So the idea that these phones are constantly paying the network for connection as that ping they're tracking?
And using to locate you.
So they're able to do that and say like okay there's a phone here there's phone here or not.
Unless these phones Some somehow gain sentience and are walking on their own.
They're most likely attached with a person.
So they use that to track people in malls to say like, there's this many people at this store today.
We know like how well traffic does.
That's kind of what like marketers use that.
They also use these in prisons to basically detect any type of contraband because inmates aren't allowed to have cell phones or anything like that.
So they're now bringing these into schools where they're using that to track students throughout their day.
And it's not just their phones, right?
So if it has any kind of signals.
So your kid had a new pair of air pods or anything like that, that's being tracked.
And obviously there are some kids that are too young to have phones, so this company Inpixon decides, hey, we are going to introduce a wristband trackers for them, where it basically kinda works like a Fitbit where they use that to also track like their stats or their calorie count And their heartbeat, which this is pitch something to be a school safety thing.
Right, I think that's why law schools might be inclined to look at this, right.
The promise here is that it's supposed to be a safety issue.
It's supposed to prevent school shootings but While we talked about this, you talked about this before.
That's not necessarily the case, right?
No, absolutely not.
I mean, so the way that it's supposed to work as a school safety tool, let's say, they have every kid, it's like phone registered already.
So if a new device comes on campus and it's like, hey we don't know whose phone that is.
What's going on here?
They send a security guard to go check it out.
The problem with an idea like that is kids got new devices all the time.
And it's not like What if they get a new pair of headphones that are not registered?
Then it becomes like sending a security guard everyday for something like that.
Also for a lot of school shootings they're done by students who would be in the system.
Yeah they wouldn't be registered yeah.
So they wouldn't actually be flagged.
Yeah exactly so I mean that's The problem of a lot of the technology being proposed as school shooting prevention where there's absolutely no proof that this technology works but obviously-
With that said though, I mean I get that.
It's a very suspicious argument preventing school shootings but in terms of preventing I guess unwanted people, strangers
Adults who mean to do harm, like this is some wood actually trigger would alert security like this [INAUDIBLE]
Okay, so try convincing a school board to spend $1.4 million on something like this to prevent just a guy that you don't want on campus like an annoying person or
Or try convincing I'm saying you can use $1.4 million to-
To stop shooting.
Yeah, I get-
That logic a lot because fear is what sells.
I mean that's a really good point though.
Are schools really doing this?
Are they using the school shooting thing as the The impetus to actually get the money and the, but the really actually using it to like track.
I don't see schools making this pitch that much so much as I see.
Companies making this pitch to get schools to spend money on them.
And I think the onus is really on them right to prove that this technology works because like, ultimately schools are spending this money.
And, and, I don't know how well funded the school districts are in your area, but
Across the country, it really is like they're kinda starved for resources.
And you could be using that money to pay teachers more you.
You be using that money to pay for more guidance counselors or after school programs that would actually help out the kids, rather than these security systems that might be helpful one day, but the rest of the
Time is there.
Is a fascinating debate because look I have two kids.
I'm not averse to putting trackers on my kids, frankly, which I know you think is a privacy issue.
But the key difference here between what this is and what I'm thinking about is like
This would be a tracker that I would put on my kid that I would have control over right?
That would be similar to some.
Yeah you can sell that data on your kids.
Exactly if Google wanted if they give me enough money I'll do it.
But the fact that it It's a school doing it and it's only limited the school.
And it's an opt out program.
Yeah, you have to tell them please don't track my kids.
And also if parents to opt out, doesn't it make the system kind of irrelevant?
Well, Not only that, but it's also even if you opt out you are still being tracked in a way right?
Like if I'm not in school one day because I opted out of being in class and they have the attendance sheet and they say Alfred wasn't here today.
They have that data still.
Omission of data is still data that's collected.
That is a fair point.
But yeah I mean it's a fascinating thing.
I think there is a line with parents From our perspective we are definitely willing to bend privacy rules,
When it comes to keeping our kids safe.
That's ultimately the priority right?
But how it's done is the execution is really the key and like I don't know,
Like i said I mean
I don't know if like the school handle it is the best thing.
I think a lot of it comes down to like a heat of the moment kind of thing, right where it's like if there's a fire in the building like you wouldn't care about like privacy issues.
But like, I guess the question is like, how often is a building on fire?
And would you want to have your privacy invaded the rest of the time so that it would save you in that situation?
It's interesting too because with the school shootings and the frequency of school shootings and we can take off the table, the fact that maybe this thing doesn't even isn't affected one, but in the terms of the argument
Like, if you made the argument that this prevents one school shooting, I think for most parents, that would be enough.
Well, yeah, I mean, obviously one school shooting.
That's I think that's harder than-
And I think that's why the argument is so compelling even though it may
May not be as effective as these companies claim, right?
I mean, yeah, but that's the idea, right?
They say you're trading off your privacy for safety.
But if you're not actually getting the safety that they're promising or you're actually trading anything off.
Also, they Firefox just announced that it's putting in place something called DNS over HTTPS a protocol.
It's supposed to make your browsing experience A lot more private.
Technology prevents other people from tracking you.
We type in an address for say CNET.com.
Firefox is creator.
Mozilla has long been a champion of privacy, although folks are still using the Chrome browser What do you think?
Let me just preface this by saying that the Chrome browser also does this but you have to turn it on by Settings.
And if you've watched this show before you understand how frustrated I get about default settings.
But I kinda wanna just break down what DNS-
Over HTTP is cuz it's a lot of [CROSSTALK].
It's a lot of letters.
So DNS, think of that as like a phone book, right?
So The way the internet works is that, you type in a URL and you go somewhere, right?
But the URL is not what is actually going on behind the scenes, you're going to like the IP address, but you're more likely to remember CNET.com over like 10.1.2, whatever.
It's the same way like you don't remember everyone's phone number, but you have their contacts listed there.
Has been like how the internet has worked for like decades.
And that has been sending over HTTP.
For a long time.
For a really long time, which is not good because that's not encrypted and like your ISP, another acronym, I'm sorry, your internet provider can like use that and say, This person goes on internet a lot.
But to put like tech advertisements for this person, so once it's encrypted then it becomes kind of a way to say like hey, you can't look at this data anymore.
And the thing that Mozilla's doing is a very big deal that they're making a default option where you don't have to do anything, which is how Thing should be, right?
Well, look, Google, which owns the Chrome browser makes a lot of money on advertising.
So, like taking that feature away or taking that ability to peer into what that traffic looks like?
So, DNS based ad, ads are a lot more for Internet Service Providers.
Than they are for like your browser.
Because like if search stuff by HTTPS that's also encrypted.>> Yeah.>> So Google has a lot more ways of targeting your Ads rather than using that kind of security.
I don't know why they haven't made it by default.>> Yeah.>> Cuz that's what we should.
I just don't know much that money like I can come from that.