School begins now: My elementary kid’s using a (achool-issued and controlled/monitored) ChromeBook and my spidey privacy sense is tingling

Is there a safe way to join to monitor his work and protect him if I don’t trust google?

I figured an old iPhone with no other sensitive or banking, etc info on it, but is that in vain? A Google Drive that can connect to my kid’s school G Drive?

Do I need Tor, a vpn, VMs to use Google without signing my soul to them?

Thoughts? How would you handle this? I could throw Linux on a dedicated machine and have him use that at home instead of the monitored school-owned machine (they have to agree to screen share EVERYTHING to get to the network connection step, so no choice there

One bright side is that I have access to the Linux feature here, FWIW.

My wife feels I’m paranoid but y’all understand my fears. Please discuss if you have a moment or two for me and THANK YOU!!!


(EDITED topic title due to ambiguity on the level of control I have on this Chromebook). Sure, if I owned it, I would wipe the SOB and put one of my beloved Debian relatives on it. Or hell, just straight up Debian!}

i mean if you want, i remember there is a linux version for chromebooks


GREAT POINT, Esmail! My issue is that this is the school-issued one, so I am not as free to “hack it and make it work to my specs”. They have policies on a number of things that I cannot change, such as even the frickin’ default password, which is the only more obvious one than 'password".

Somehow, I was able to go into the Linux option and turn it on. I think I tried last year and it was blocked by policy as well, but not this time. I am unsure how to read that but I’m damn sure gonna play. I had up to 6gb of space to reserve for it (requires more than 5, but no more than 6 or so, so I just rolled with 5.2gb and no issues. I got a terminal prompt, even colored syntax, so that was pleasingly unexpected.

Can we have anonymity with a Google account or app (like Drive or Email, mostly) or is that not my best play?

(Edited for y ignorance in misspelling Esmail’s name. Sorry!)

i would use a hotspot that is linked to a vpn before you connect your laptop to the internet so it’s encrypted then cover your webcam and turn what ever privacy settings you can off

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While as a team we don’t endorse buying a Chromebook, both Kevin Mitnick and WatchYourHack actually recommend them:

If you’re not tech-savvy and just want to be able to browse the web, send emails and watch videos, then a Chromebook might be the way to go. This laptop is cheap and very secure, because it only runs Google’s Chrome internet browser. This makes it hard for hackers to infect your computer with viruses. This laptop lets you do everything you normally do in a browser. If you have a higher budget, an iPad with a keyboard is a good way to go too.

They are great for security, obviously considerably less good for privacy, however whether your child uses one really depends on their threat model.

I’d also read Dan Arels advice for students on privacy. This article may also be of use:

Hope this helps, and welcome to the community!

beside you just misspelled my name :joy:, your best pet then make him use your own alt machine and like leave him in school with their chrome book. or use linux live boot in USB drive at home or make dual boot then after you finish remove it before give them back the chrome book or you know what? make him use the chromebook, give him access to your alt machine and let him use it on his chromebook, now you dont have to agree on anything and same time you are safe! (except google can monitor your internet traffic but we are not sure about that yet so let us try that first then fix the next problem)


When Google is used in an educational context (GSuite), they make money from the contractual arrangement with schools etc:

Are there ads in G Suite for Education?
No. There are no ads in G Suite for Education core services and we do not collect or use student data for advertising purposes or create advertising profiles. K-12 G Suite for Education users also don’t see ads when they use Google search while signed in to their G Suite for Education accounts. Some of Google’s additional services such as Blogger and YouTube do show ads to students, however we give Administrators the ability to restrict access to these services.

Therefore these services aren’t mined for advertising purposes the same way that free use of services like Gmail, Youtube etc is. You should read this page, to learn more about that.

A lot of schools have a management policy where the IT support can manage those devices. If it’s owned by the school I would suggest leaving the operating system intact intact.

It’s a good time to teach your child to only use personal devices for personal activities. The same extends to work supplied equipment.

You’re also better off not changing too much. You don’t want your child to get in trouble. Likely if they have trouble with it they will go to support/etc.

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Great, thanks so much all of you!

I was nervous deciding to sign up for a new Gmail/Google account so that I could more easily monitor and see his process. But I’m happier using Tuta and DuckDuck for that last couple of years and then I found this site. Glad to be here. You all are godsends!


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