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Barking up the Wrong Tree

Bark is the new software GMC is using for the Chromebooks. To find out more about the software itself, click here to read Emma Childs' article, "BARK." Basically, Bark scans for keywords and alerts the administrator when those keywords are found. While the intent of using this software is to prevent a harmful learning environment, is it actually just a violation of privacy?

It may not be common knowledge, but students relinquish most rights when they are on school property. This mainly affects students by allowing police officers and administration to search students' belongings, such as in drug dog searches. Therefore, Bark is technically not a legal violation of privacy, but many would consider it a violation of moral privacy. No matter what content is on your computer, it can make you feel uncomfortable to know that a website is scanning through every word you type to find something suspicious. This brings up another issue; who is deciding what websites we get to visit and what constitutes a positive learning environment?

You have probably noticed that certain websites are blocked. Many of these are gaming websites, but many other blocked websites include things that would be used for learning. For example, almost every scholarship website I have come across is blocked. Trying to find and apply for scholarships during school is almost impossible with Bark, and personally, I think scholarships could be considered part of a healthy learning environment. The reason these are blocked is because there may be a small mention of social media websites, and Bark does not want us exposed to those in the slightest.

Bark is a good concept, but its execution could be better. It blocks websites that could be used for learning, and it is also a violation of privacy for students.

Click HERE for the cover image.