opinion: Securly is nothing new in the realm of digital tracking

Lily Geiser | Staff Writer

I was in my bedroom when I first noticed a new little icon had appeared in the top right corner of my computer screen.

Most of you have probably heard of Securly already. A ‘Student Safety Company’, it describes itself as a provider of “cloud-based web filtering and parental controls that work across schools and homes”. It aims to use a machine-learning-type software to determine if a student is using their computers with good or bad intentions. It provides services that can detect cyberbullying, signs of self-harm, and keep students from visiting websites that aren’t age appropriate.

In essence, as soon as it was installed in our @masonohioschools.com emails, it could track what we looked at, when we looked at it, and could block us from looking at certain things.

Many immediately decried this application. I was upset at first, too, believe me. After all, I don’t even use a school provided Chromebook. I’ve never given the school any reason to believe they need to monitor my every move. It’s frustrating and it’s scary, to feel like every little thing you do online is being watched and analyzed by some unknown entity. 

But at the end of the day, is Securly really anything new?

The school has always had a certain amount of access to our accounts – that’s why they set up their own domain. Our emails are flagged if they contain offensive language, the WiFi blocks dozens of websites, and sending emails to and from anyone with a Gmail account is a dicey prospect. Securly only made the issue more transparent, but the software has always been there, just not visible to the student eye. 

In fact, what the school is doing is not anything revolutionary. The school does – and probably should – have a certain amount of control over our lives, including our digital footprints. Most school districts do similar things, and we can’t escape it even in adulthood. If your parents have a computer provided by their employer, chances are that employer can check their browser history, emails – anything and everything they can get their hands on. In a way, this system may be preparing us for the real world.

Personally, I’m a big believer in the rights of citizens to keep their search histories to themselves. But Securly isn’t going to drastically impact what the school knows about our personal lives. More likely than not, we’ll just continue on with our lives, with just as much indifference towards school surveillance as we had before. 

So don’t be too freaked out by this new extension. After all, we live in the Digital Age – things are only going downhill from here.