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University of Missouri Students Will Now Be Required to Install Location Tracking App

“We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?”

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University of Missouri Students

(TMU) — According to a new report from the Kansas City Star, the University of Missouri (MU) has started using an app called SpotterEdu to track students to determine attendance in classes.

Individual professors will choose whether or not to use the app. If they choose to use it, students in those classes will be unable to opt-out and therefore forced to install the software on their mobile phones.

The unprecedented Orwellian move requires students to install the app with no option to opt-out of the potential privacy-invasive software. “A student will have to participate in this recording of attendance,” Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies at MU said in a statement to the Kansas City Star.

SpotterEDU is designed to monitor a user’s attendance by “pinpointing students within a classroom until they leave, providing continuous, reliable and non-invasive attendance,” according to the app’s website. While the app guarantees that students are in the classroom during class times, it claims it does not track the locations of students after hours.

However, the two-star rated app found in the Google Play store that has thus far been reviewed by 35 students, states that the app uses the GPS permission on Android to function with many complaining the app doesn’t even work.

One reviewer, Apple jarjar, wrote the following:

“Yeah I haven’t been able to get into this app. I need it for my stupid science class, but it won’t let me get past the turn on location page. My location and Bluetooth is on. The worst app that I haven’t been able to use. There’s a reason it only has 2 stars. Not losing points on attendance because of this bullcrap.”

In the Apple Store SpotterEDU received three and a half stars, many users complaining about the app and its tracking.

An iOS user named peeboo wrote:

“Good in Theory

But in practice it needs some work. My phone recently gave me a notification that Spotter tracked my location 88 times in previous 3 days (which was mostly the weekend). Why is it tracking my location when I do not have class? I will change my review once this is fixed. Thanks.”

Still, the company claims that it can’t locate students anywhere but in their classrooms.

We only care if students are in class during class; no GPS tracking means we can’t locate them anywhere else,” the app’s website states.

SpotterEDU works with short-range Bluetooth sensors and campus-wide WiFi networks according to Boston.com. However, if the app is requesting the GPS function on the phone it can be assumed it collects all location data of the phone as a commenter above expressed. This is because the software is not open source and we can’t see the code.

The program automatically notifies professors if a student skips a class or shows up more than a few minutes late. SpotterEDU’s CEO Rick Carter told the Washington Post that professors can look specifically at attendance patterns for “students of color” or “out of state students” for retention purposes.

Sara Baker of the ACLU of Missouri told the Kansas City Star the organization has “deep privacy concerns about the app.”

Any time you use surveillance technology, the question always is who is watching the watcher,” Baker said, adding that such technology could be used for abusive purposes “like monitoring which students are participating in protests,” for example.

We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?asked Robby Pfeifer, a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, which recently began logging the attendance of students connected to the campus’ WiFi network. “Why is this necessary? How does this benefit us? . . . And is it just going to keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day?

In a statement to The Washington Post, Carter, who also happens to be a former Mizzou basketball coach, said that his company already works with nearly 40 schools including major schools like—Auburn, Central Florida, Indiana, and Missouri.

The most frightening aspects of the use of SpotterEDU are that students are unable to opt-out—thus giving up their privacy in a time when the right to privacy is being continually assaulted by tech companies, the government, and now schools—and that it is unknown just what happens with the data that the company collects.

By Aaron Kesel | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

News

Jeff Bezos Thanks Amazon Workers And Customers For Paying For His Flight To Space

Elias Marat

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The billionaire space race chalked up one more ignoble milestone on July 20 when the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, boarded a reusable rocket his company Blue Origin built and funded, flew to the edge of space for a moment of weightlessness, and came back down to earth.

You can watch the flight and learn more about the journey here.

The Amazon founder has faced withering criticism for accumulating his massive fortune on the backs of an exploited workforce that is subject to harsh working conditions and low pay in warehouses or Fulfillment Centers where staffers must urinate in water bottles in order to meet their quotas.

In his press conference following the launch, Bezos thanked that same workforce for helping him to shoot himself into space in a move that many critics have described as a simple “joyride.”

“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for this,” he told the crowd, which responded with laughter. “Seriously, for every Amazon customer out there and every employee thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It’s very appreciated.”

Critics on Twitter responded with derision, noting that Bezos was able to enjoy the trip at the expense of his hard-working employees.

“Thing is, employers are supposed to pay their employees, not the other way around, but that’s basically how Amazon works,” one user tweeted.

While another tweeter asked: “Maybe they’re searching space for signs of a livable wage or a way to pay their fair share of taxes?”

On Tuesday, Bezos blasted off in the sub-orbital New Shepard rocket from Texas. The date for the launch was chosen to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Members of the crew, which included his brother mark and 82-year-old female astronaut Wally Funk, brought a number of historic items on the flight, including a piece of canvas from the conceptual plane originally flown by the Wright brothers, the goggles Amelia Earhart used to fly across the Atlantic, and a brass medal made from the first hot air balloon which flew in 1783.

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Good News

Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces

Elias Marat

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Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.

And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.

The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.

The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.

At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.

When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.

Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.

The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.

The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.

“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.

“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.

His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.

Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.

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Animals

Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber

Elias Marat

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An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.

In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.

“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”

As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.

Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.

“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.

Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.

So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.

“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”

As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.

Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.

“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”

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