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Protecting your family's privacy during distance learning

Posted at 9:37 AM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 14:10:49-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As teachers livestream classes, privacy issues are becoming a concern. Parents and cybersecurity experts are worried about kids taking classes in front of cameras.

At the beginning of the school year, a hacker tapped into a virtual classroom of Walter Johnson Junior High School. To address these issues, Clark County School District Supt. Dr. Jesus Jara said the district will soon have access to a Google tool to help make digital classrooms more secure.

Bill Fitzgerald is a privacy researcher with Consumer Reports. He says virtual learning doesn't just put classes at risk of being hacked.

Someone who is supposed to be in the virtual lesson could record it and use it in a harmful way, he says. A struggling student could be made fun of, for example, or a student with a disability could be stigmatized.

There are also concerns about students being forced to keep cameras on at all times.

"If people were told that, as a prerequisite of their legally required public education, they had to allow people into their home at any point, that wouldn't stand," said Fitzgerald.

"Requiring a student to put their camera on is somewhat equivalent to allowing somebody into your home," he added.

CCSD asked for permission from parents and guardians for kids to be recorded, and it has said it is limiting the recording of online classes.

However, there are still steps you can take to make sure your child has a safe learning environment.

  • Make sure you secure your WiFi networks
  • Update security software on all devices
  • Change factory passwords on routers to complex passwords
  • Never click on links or open attachments that you are suspicious of