[iDC] Computrace query

Jonathan Beller jbeller at pratt.edu
Sun May 23 06:30:22 UTC 2010

Dear IDCers, a moment of your expertise if you have the time (I beg  
you to forgive the ignorance which the question below betrays):

At long last (6 years) my institution has agreed to buy me a new  
computer. Long story short I asked to bypass our IT department and  
receive the unit directly, but Pratt requires the installation of  
Computrace, and will not turn the computer over to me without it. My  
preliminary investigation of this program by the aptly named company,  
Absolute Software, shows it to be spyware capable of grabbing real  
time screen shots from my computer, monitoring key strokes, and  
remotely deleting the hard drive. Supposedly these features are  
activated only in the event of the computers theft, but I do not take  
much comfort from such assurances. First is this assessment of  
Computrace's capacities correct and second, does it not seem that  
acquiescing to the installation of such programs institutes an  
unprecedented level of surveillance over our intellectual and sensual  
exploration as well as our very creativity. We know that in principle  
our every screen-view and inscription is retrievable by those who have  
immense power over us. If this understanding is correct, how can we  
tolerate that our liberal arts institutions allow a window open to the  
possibility of human freedom be closed not only for us but --should  
this situation become the standard -- perhaps for all time?

Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated and also used to develop an  
arsenal to change our institutional policy should that prove to be the  
proper route.

With thanks,
Jon Beller

Jonathan Beller
Humanities and Media Studies
and Critical and Visual Studies
Pratt Institute
jbeller at pratt.edu
718-636-3573 fax

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