Just a few weeks ago, the whole of the Newton North community received a fateful email from the administration, informing us that we would need to install a security certificate in order to access the wifi from now on. How I long for those simpler times. I did what I was told, downloading the certificate when I arrived at school despite the fact, and I didn’t think about this at the time, the wifi was just fine without the certificate, and I was downloading the certificate off of that same wifi. Looking back on it, this was foreshadowing of the horror show that was to come.
After downloading the certificate, I noticed something strange. Nothing on my phone was working right. Instagram, Snapchat, Schoology, all of them refused to load. Wondering if I was just unlucky, I asked a friend who was using her computer next to me. Nope, her internet was acting strangely, too. I thought it might have been the certificate blocking things that might “interrupt the learning process” but why would it block Schoology? Needless to say, I downloaded a VPN and hoped the internet would go back to functioning normally.
And for a few blissful weeks it did. The internet was its normal, patchy, slow self that I have been used to for the last four years, but I see now that this was just the calm before the storm. On Monday, the internet was acting strangely and then on Tuesday, that’s yesterday when I’m writing this article, it was completely dead. It would pop up with two or three bars, but when I tried to access anything, it would disappear in a flash, almost like it was taunting me. The same thing happened all today, leaving me with some questions and some thoughts.
Firstly, what’s the deal with the certificate? What security threats need to be protected against? And if there are serious threats, how is Newton North’s dinky security certificate going to protect against them? Not that I would ever call the technical prowess of the Newton district, but we’ve switched our electronic grade system three times since I was a freshman, and they’ve gotten worse each time (On a side note: what was wrong with Skyward? Because I’m pretty sure after one term of intro to computer program I could make something better than Aspen). Anyway, back to my question. The email we got was very vague, I’m not sure what “security pertaining to Internet access” refers to but it would be nice to have clarification, and as someone who did install the certificate, my internet still sucks. And how are you supposed to download the certificate if you can’t get on the internet? That still bugs me.
But say the problem isn’t the certificate, then my next, and probably the most important, question is what is going on? This is now a recurring problem, and even if the internet is on sporadically, that still means that there are times when it’s off. This isn’t just about staring mindlessly at social media, although obviously that’s very important. The big problem with having such crappy connection is that it makes communication with the outside world impossible. Either by a function of its particular size or an unlucky zoning incident, North has pretty much no service, and so we need the internet to be able to talk to parents, guardians, siblings, and the police. North’s lack of internet is not only a threat to my ability to watch YouTube, it’s a threat to our security.
It seems unlikely to me that the North administration has rigged some grand conspiracy in order to cut us off from the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a real problem. Making sure the wifi works should be a priority , and it’s crazy that there could be this large a change or issue without anyone explaining it to the people it affects the most.