Friday, April 27, 2012

School Issued Apple iPads Allow Porn in Manitou Springs School District 14, Memorandum by Morality in Media General Counsel Robert Peters on Unfiltered Internet Access

Apple iPads provided by MSSD14 allow
children access to unlimited pornography

MEMORANDUM

From: Robert Peters, General Counsel of Morality in Media
To: To Whom It May Concern
Date: March 2012
Re: Manitou Springs (Colorado) School District (District 14) policy regarding student use of school provided Apple iPad2 tablet computers

  1. Introduction

I have been asked to provide an analysis regarding the Manitou Springs School District 14 (“District 14”) policy of providing 5th thru 8th grade students with Apple iPad2 tablet computers (“iPad2s”) for educational use both within and away from school grounds. While District 14 filters the wireless signal that emanates from its own school based servers, the iPad2s are not themselves properly equipped with filtering protections and thus allow unrestricted access to the Internet via wireless signals that emanate from other sources. Some of these unfiltered signals can be received while students are on school grounds. Students’ use of the iPad2s for school work away from school grounds is also unmonitored, thus allowing children to browse the Internet with no record of web pages they visit or the search requests they make. The following additional information about the District 14 policy regarding student use of its iPad2s has been provided by a concerned parent.

  • Manitou Springs School District
    Most other Colorado schools (6 out of 7) known to provide students with take home computers protect each computer by only installing Internet browsing software that filters and monitors all online activity at all times, despite the source, location or type of Internet connection (hereinafter, “24/7 protections”). Such filtering/monitoring browsing software is commonly and successfully used in iPad2s by schools in Colorado and nationwide.
  • Initially, District 14 installed the LightSpeed Mobile Filter browser that provides 24/7 protections but also inadvertently installed additional Internet browsing applications that did not filter or monitor students’ online activities (hereinafter, “unrestricted browsers”).
  • When District 14 first became aware of its unrestricted browsers problem, it indicated that these unrestricted browsers would be removed from its iPad2s and did in fact begin to remove them. Subsequently, District 14 reversed itself and provided iPad2s with unrestricted browsers (Safari, Wiki, Wikibot, Zite, Smartnote, and perhaps others) because it deemed “the educational value” of these browsers “too great to justify removing them.” [Quoted matter from a statement, ”Blazing new trails in 21st Century Learning,” issued by Chris Burr, Principal, Manitou Springs Middle School.]
  • To address the problem of children gaining access to harmful Internet content while using school issued iPad2s when away from school, District 14 shifted that responsibility to parents. District 14 Policy Code: JS, entitled “Student Use of the Internet and Electronic Communications” and adopted in December 2011 (available at mssd14.org/boe/section_J_3x.html#JS), states in part: “Parents and/or legal guardians must accept responsibility for the blocking and filtering of obscene, pornographic and harmful information while their students are away from school and using district issued technological devices.”
  • In order for a child to use a school issued iPad2 while away from school, a parent must sign an iPad User Agreement [available at www.mssd14.org/boe/section_J_3x.html#JSE ] which states in part: “I understand that access to the Internet… is designed for educational purposes and that the school district has taken reasonable steps to block or filter material and information that is…harmful to minors…I also recognize…that it is impossible for the school district to prevent access to all materials or information I might find harmful or controversial and I agree not to hold the district responsible for any such materials and information accessed by my child. Further, I accept full responsibility for supervision if and when my child's Internet or electronic communications use is not in a school setting.”
  • Because browsers (e.g., Safari) now installed on the iPad2s do not offer parental controls, parents have no means of controlling Internet content beamed from unsecured Wi-Fi signals readily accessible to their children when they are off school grounds.  Parents also face burdensome and complex technical measures to place controls upon their own home wireless networks to protect children while their children are at home.
  • If a parent chooses to “Opt Out” of the school’s recommended “iPad at home” program, the parent must first sign a Technology User Agreement that says in part: “I understand that my child may not have the same learning opportunities as other students who have access to the school-issued iPad beyond normal school hours.”
  • District 14 Policy Code: JS, entitled “Student Use of the Internet and Electronic Communications” (adopted in December 2011 and available at mssd14.org/boe/section_J_3x.html#JS), states in part: “The Internet and electronic communications (e-mail, chat rooms and other forms of electronic communication) have vast potential to support curriculum and student learning…[O]peration of these tools…outside of the traditional classroom supports the district’s vision of utilizing resources such as time and support (beyond normal hours of operation) to increase individualized learning for students…District computers…and technological devices are owned by the district and…intended for educational purposes at all times.”  

The question has arisen as to whether the District 14 policy is in compliance with the Colorado Children’s Internet Protection Act [C.R.S. 87-22-101 et seq.], which states in part in Subsections 101(2) and 104(1) & (2): “It is the intent of the general assembly…that public schools be required to adopt and enforce reasonable policies of internet safety that will protect children from access to harmful material without compromising…use of the internet as an educational resource…[T]he governing body of each [school] district shall adopt and implement a policy of internet safety for minors that includes the operation of a technology protection measure for each computer operated by the district that allows for access to the internet by a minor…After the adoption and implementation of the policy…the governing body of each [school] district shall continue to enforce the policy and the operation of the technology protection measure for each computer operated by the district that allows for access to the internet by a minor.

The question has also arisen as to whether the District 14 policy is in compliance with the Federal Child Internet Protection Act [47 U.S.C. 254(h)(5)], which states in Subsection 254(h)(5)(B)(i) that in order for a school to qualify to buy Internet access at a discount it must first certify that it is enforcing a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes monitoring the online activities of minors and the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are …harmful to minors.”

Before addressing these questions, however, there is another question(s) which should be addressed – namely, whether providing children with unrestricted access to the Internet puts them at serious risk for exposure to hardcore adult pornography and whether this exposure can (and often does) lead to serious harm.

  1. Harm to children from exposure to hardcore adult pornography

Every cloud has a silver lining
There is an old saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” If there is a silver lining behind the dark storm cloud of hardcore “adult” pornography that has proliferated online, it is that more and more people are becoming aware that it is not just child pornography that is harmful but also hardcore adult pornography. Over the past decade, there have been numerous reports in the news media about adults becoming “addicted” to hardcore adult pornography and how this has affected their marriages or jobs. The following are examples of the many, many reports:


Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in Graham v. Florida, 130 Sup. Ct. 2011 (2010) that the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishments clause prohibited imposition of a life-without-parole sentence on a juvenile offender who had committed a non-homicide crime. In so holding the Court again recognized (at p. 2026) that juveniles have a “lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility” and aremore vulnerable...to negative influences.” [Italics added]

"The availability of pornography
through portable devices
drastically affects a child's
understanding of acceptable
sexual behaviour, according
to experts...."
The Sydney Morning Herald
Can there be any doubt that among these “negative influences” is exposure to hardcore adult pornography which graphically depicts, among other things, bestiality, bondage, excretory activities (urine and feces), gang bangs, group sex, incest, prostitution, rape, rough sex (strangulation, slapping, verbal abuse), teen sex, torture and unsafe sex galore? Common sense should inform us that when children are exposed to such degrading and perverse materials, their perspectives about sex and their sexual desires and behavior can be influenced for the worst. The evidence set forth below (the tip of the iceberg) supports that assessment.


And make no mistake about it, large numbers of children are being exposed to hardcore adult pornography online, as the following surveys show.

  • According to a study published in 2012,1one-in-five, or 21% of children have accessed inappropriate websites via their mobile phone, rising to a third of 14-15 year-olds…Whether it’s intentionally digging out inappropriate websites, or stumbling across websites or content, many children are seeing, reading and viewing matter that they know is only meant for adults.” The study looked into the mobile web behavior of 8 -15 year-olds in the UK.
  • According to a study published in 2010,2 42% of Internet users aged 10 to 17 surveyed said they had seen online pornography in a recent 12-month span. Most kids who reported unwanted exposure were aged 13 to 17. “Still, sizable numbers of 10- and 11-year-olds also had unwanted exposure – 17 percent of boys and 16 percent of girls that age.”
  • According to a study published in 2007,3 students aged 13 and 14 from schools in Alberta, Canada, were surveyed about how and how often they accessed sexually explicit media content in various media. “A majority of the students, 74%, reported viewing pornography on the Internet.”
  • According to a study published in 2006,4 the percentage of Internet users ages 10 to 17 exposed to unwanted pornography in the previous year increased from 25% in 2000 to 34% in 2005, “and these increases were seen across every age group, including preteens (10-12) from 9 to 19% [and] early teens (13-15) from 28% to 35%...”

Despite what pornography defenders may say, exposing children to hardcore adult pornography is not a matter of little or no concern. When children are exposed to materials that depict adulterous, promiscuous, degrading, abusive, violent and illegal sexual behaviors, they can learn wrong things about sex and relationships.5 When children become addicted to this material, their psychological development can be affected.6 Children are also harmed when sexually abused by other children who have imitated sexual behaviors that they viewed in pornography.7

  1. Colorado Children’s Internet Protection Act (CCIPA)

Sign: "Porn puts our children in harms way"
Defenders of the District 14 policy regarding student use of the Internet point to language in Subsection 102(1)(a) & (b) of CCIPA which refers to “use of the internet in the public schoolsand to “use internet services in public schools[italics added], arguing that the Act only applies when children access the Internet while in [the] public schools.  If that is the meaning, however, then it would be OK for District 14 school children to use their school issued iPad2s to watch hardcore adult pornography during recess or gym classes (when held outdoors or off school grounds), or while watching school sponsored sporting events (when held outdoors or off school grounds), or while riding to and from school or school sponsored events on buses owned or paid for by District 14 schools. This is hardly what the Colorado legislature had in mind when it enacted the CCIPA.

Furthermore, Section 104 of CCIPA twice refers to the “operation of a technology protection measure for each computer operated by the district that allows for access to the internet by a minor[italics added], and on its face this section applies regardless of where or when a computer operated by the district is used.   Lest anyone think that when a child takes a school issued iPad2 home that computer is no longer “operated by the district,” the following language in District 14 Policy Code: JS (see Introduction above at p.2) ought to dispel that notion:

[O]peration of these toolsoutside of the traditional classroom supports the district’s vision of utilizing resources such as time and support (beyond normal hours of operation) to increase individualized learning for students…District computers… are owned by the district and…intended for educational purposes at all times.  [Italics added]

Furthermore, Section 105 of CCIPA states, in part:

An administrator, supervisor, or any other person authorized by the district …
may temporarily disable the technology protection measure to enable access to the internet on a particular computer by…[a] minor for bona fide research or other lawful purposes where the internet use in connection with the research or other lawful purpose is supervised by an administrator, supervisor, or other person authorized by the district[Italics added]

When construing language in a criminal statute, any ambiguity is to be construed against the government and in favor of the person who must comply with the law. But CCIPA is not a criminal statute, and to construe this law as allowing schools to provide 5th grade children with take home computers that provide unrestricted Internet access and browsing applications that are incompatible with protection measures, is ludicrous, particularly when functional filtered browsing applications specifically developed for iPads deployed in “24/7” educational programs (e.g., Lightspeed browser) are readily available and already owned by District 14.

Defenders of District 14’s Internet use policy also point to language in Subsection 102(2) of CCIPA which states that “public schools be required to adopt and enforce reasonable policies of internet safety that will protect children from access to harmful material without compromising…use of the internet as an educational resource…” The argument here is that if children are provided with iPad2s that come equipped with Internet browsing applications that filter online activity “24/7,” their use of internet as an educational resource will be “compromis[ed].”

It ought to go without saying, however, that providing school children with iPad2 browsing applications that offer no technology protection measure – and that cannot be equipped with such a measure – does not comply with CCIPA, which requires a policy of Internet safety that “will protect children from access to harmful content.” Nor does District 14’s misguided attempt to shift the responsibility for protecting children to parents comply with the mandate to adopt a policy that “will protect children from access to harmful content.”

Furthermore, it is hard to imagine what irreplaceable educational benefit(s) will be lost if school children ages 10 to 14 are provided with iPad2s that are equipped with browsers that filter smut. Is there knowledge that 5th thru 8th grade children must have access to now that would be forever lost to them if their Internet explorations were subject to reasonable and legally required protection measures? Are there computer skills these school children must learn now, or else? Even assuming that some children would benefit in the long term from having unrestricted access to the Internet at young ages, would it not be reasonable to offer classes which provide such access but under the watchful eye of adults?

It should also be remembered that in businesses and government agencies all across America access to the Internet is restricted and/or monitored.8 This is done to prevent misuse of computers resulting in loss of productivity and liability.9 The wireless portable computers issued to trained Colorado Springs police officers (for use in their patrol vehicles) have only filtered monitored Internet access. Do District 14 school children really need greater access than local police officers?

  1. District 14’s ‘Acceptable Use Agreement’

In order for a child to use a school issued iPad2 while away from school, a parent must sign an Acceptable Use Agreement which states in part:

I understand that access to the Internet… is designed for educational purposes and that the school district has taken reasonable steps to block or filter material and information that is…harmful to minors…I also recognize …that it is impossible for the school district to prevent access to all materials or information I might find harmful or controversial and I agree not to hold the district responsible for any such materials and information accessed by my child. Further, I accept full responsibility for supervision if and when my child's Internet or electronic communications use is not in a school setting. [“Agreement” available at http://www.mssd14.org/boe/section_J_3x.html#JSE ]

The Agreement would make sense if District 14 had done all it could (from a technology protection measure perspective) to restrict children’s access to harmful content on the Internet because no filtering technology is 100% effective or foolproof. But it defies the imagination to understand how District 14 can state that it has taken “reasonable steps to block or filter material and information that is harmful to minors” when the only step it has taken to block or filter such content is to filter the wireless signal that emanates from its own school based server.

This one step does not even provide full protection for children when they are in school because they can get access to wireless signals that emanate from off school grounds and potentially from smartphones within the school. Furthermore, it is District 14 that is encouraging parents to allow children to take their school issued iPad2s home and that has decided to equip those iPad2s with browsers that do not come equipped with parental controls. One is also left to wonder how parents can fulfill their “responsibility for supervision,” given the fact that the iPad2s come with browsers that are not and cannot be equipped with parental controls.

  1. Federal Child Internet Protection Act (FCIPA)

Little girl viewing Apple iPad
If a school district wants to buy Internet access at a discount rate, it must enforce a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes “monitoring the online activities of minors” AND “the operation of a technology measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are ...harmful to minors.” [47 USC 254(h)(5)(B)(i)].

District 14 does have the ability to monitor the online activities of its students when they are in school, but has chosen to allow and encourage use of its iPad2s “for educational purposes” when students are away from school. When children use their iPad2s while away from schools, their use is not monitored.

District 14 does filter the wireless signal that emanates from its own school based server, and this might fulfill the requirement of a technology measure that protects against access to harmful content, if students used the iPad2s only when they were in school. But again, District 14 permits and encourages use of its iPad2s for educational purposes when students are away from school; and when used away from school, there is no technology measure, on unrestricted browsers, that protects against access to harmful content.
There is no language in the FCIPA that can be construed as allowing District 14 to ignore its requirements when students use iPad2s away from school or as allowing District 14 to shift to parents the responsibility for complying with the FCIPA. Furthermore, even if the FCIPA did permit District 14 to shift the burden to parents, its iPad2s are not equipped with technology protection measures on the several unrestricted browsing applications provided to students nor can they be.

The District 14 policy is therefore not in compliance with the FCIPA.


Addendum
(On a personal note)

Robert W. Peters, Esq.,
Morality in Media
Like many others who played high school football, I have often wondered what I might have done differently to be a better player. While it wasn’t a circumstance under my control, I have often thought that I might have been a better player had I been raised in a community that offered organized tackle “youth football.”

I didn’t start playing organized tackle football until I got to high school, where I quickly discovered that there is a big difference between sandlot and high school football. For one thing, you have to be in shape to play high school football, and I was not in shape when I showed up for the first practice in the fall of 1963. Not only did I “die” during freshman year practices, I got whipped during games too!

But I wanted to play football real bad, and I didn’t quit. I also worked hard in the off season; and as a result of that desire, perseverance and hard work, I was named a co-captain of my high school sophomore football team. Towards the end of my sophomore year, there was even talk about bringing me up to the varsity team.

Today, I am glad that I didn’t have the opportunity to play organized tackle “youth football.” I say this because I know from personal experience that the more organized tackle football a person plays the more injuries he is likely to have, and injuries often have adverse later-in-life effects. Had I gotten as involved in “youth football” as many youth do today, my academic progress might also have suffered; and I might not have had an opportunity to play on a great Ivy League football team. I would also have missed out on many great sandlot sport experiences.

What does playing “youth football” have to do with providing 5th thru 8th graders with iPad2s? For one thing, while starting early can have benefits for some, desire, perseverance, and hard work can usually more than compensate for any lack of longevity. For another, there can be negative effects associated with starting some things too young and doing them too often, like playing tackle football, watching TV and spending time on the Internet.10

I would add one more thing. It is no secret that many parents do not take advantage of the technology protection measures available to them; and this is unfortunate. But parental failures do not provide District 14 with an excuse to say in so many words, “Because many parents do not use technology protection measures on computers under their control, we won’t use these measures either.” The Colorado General Assembly enacted CCIPA to protect children from pornography on the Internet, and the District 14 student-use-of-the-Internet policy needs to be in compliance with that Act. While there are differences between a school Internet use policy and a school lunch program, few would defend a school that attempted to justify serving a steady diet of nutritional garbage to students on the grounds that nutritional garbage is what is what many of them eat at home.


Endnotes

1  “Smartphones exposing children to pornography and violence as 1.2m youngsters admit to logging on,” Education News, 1/30/12, available at educationviews.org/2012/01/30/smartphones-exposing-children-to-pornography-and-violence-as-1-2m-youngsters-admit-to-logging-on/
2  “Study: Children bombarded with online porn,” www.cbsnews.com/2100-205_162-2431433.html, 3/11/10.
3  Bev Betkowski, “Rural teen boys most likely to access pornography, study shows,” Faculty News, University of Alberta, Feb. 23, 2007, available at www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-02/uoa-oit022307.php
4  J. Wolak, et al., “Online victimization of youth: Five years later,” National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), pages 8 & 51 (2006).  [ www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/NewsEventServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=2529 ]
5  See, e.g., Hearing on The Science Behind Pornography Addiction, Before U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 2004 (testimony of Mary Anne Layden, Ph.D.), (“Pornography, by its very nature, is an equal opportunity toxin…It is toxic mis-education about sex and relationships. It is more toxic the more you consume, the ‘harder’ variety you consume, and the younger and more vulnerable the consumer.”), available at commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=e8088f9f-d8d2-4e82-b012-46337c6f9456&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=b06c39af-e033-4cba-9221-de668ca1978a&YearDisplay=2004
6  See, e.g., S. Gilbert, “A conversation with Lynn Ponton: An expert’s eye on teenage sex, risk & abuse,” N.Y. Times, 01/15/02 (“I see boys who are addicted to sex sites on the Internet that show sadistic behavior toward women. It affects those boys' sexual lives…”), available at query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E6D61438F936A25752C0A9649C8B63

7  See generally, R. Peters, “Harm to children from online exposure to hardcore adult pornography,” Morality in Media, 2011, available at moralityinmedia.org/images/pdf/MIM_Peters_Children.pdf
8  See, e.g., “The latest on workplace monitoring and surveillance,” American Management Association, 3/13/08, available at www.amanet.org/training/articles/The-Latest-on-Workplace-Monitoring-and-Surveillance.aspx
9  See, e.g., “Increased visits to porn sites at work,” Industry News, Wavecrest Computing, 2/24/09, available at www.wavecrest.net/editorial/issues.html#pr27
10  See, e.g., B. Spengler, “How America made its children crazy,” Asia Times, 1/31/12, available at www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NA31Dj01.html; M. Ritchel, “Grading the digital school: In classroom of the future, stagnant scores,” N.Y. Times, 9/3/11, available at www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/technology/technology-in-schools-faces-questions-on-value.html?pagewanted=all; “Excessive Internet use,” Be Web Aware, available at www.bewebaware.ca/english/compulsive_use.html
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Note:  All graphics, captions, and hyperlinks in captions have been added by SafeLibraries.

This story provides background for this memorandum:


For a general overview of Manitou Springs D-14 Internet safety problem, an article by the Independence Institute's Senior Education Policy Analyst, Ben DeGrow, is linked here:


This story gives a quick example of the harms of pornography on children, particularly the "availability of pornography through portable devices":

Here are convenience URLs for remembering the URL of this page.  Any one will do:



NOTE ADDED 12 MAY 2012:

Unbelievable!  Some of the same school board people who allow unlimited porn on student school-supplied iPads are spraying Lysol® on students to stop them from dirty dancing!  I kid you not:



NOTE ADDED 13 MAY 2012:

"Too bad for the children, they are what they see."  Famed Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh said that in his new song, the title track of his new album, "Analog Man."  Listen here:



NOTE ADDED 20 DECEMBER 2012:

See also:


2 comments:

  1. Robert Peters has once again wielded existing law to identify yet another substantial group of children victimized by negligent public school officials who vehemently defend their disgraceful abuse of the youthful minds they are employed and entrusted to defend.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous.

    ReplyDelete

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