Yesterday, we reported on how IBM banned the use of USB drives in order to protect their intellectual property. Today, we have a school who has banned USB drives for a completely different reason; to stop kids from charging their Juul e-cig vaporizers in classrooms.
For those who are not familiar with a vaporizer, they are a small device that converts liquid nicotine into vapor so it can be inhaled. Originally created to help cigarette smokers kick a smoking habit, they have quickly become a favorite for teenagers, and younger, throughout the U.S.A.
One of the most popular vaporizers is from a company called Juul, whose device looks like a small USB drive, is charged via a USB port, and has liquid nicotine pods that come in a various flavors such as "Mango", "Fruit Medley", and "Creme Brulee". With flavors like this, "Juuling" has become a popular activity for kids of all ages and a major problem for school districts as students have starting "Juuling" in school.
Due to this schools have had to go as far as removing doors to bathrooms stalls or using bathroom attendants in order to stop vaping in school.
A Juul's battery is charged by plugging in a small USB adapter and then inserting the vaporizer into the adapter so it charges as illustrated in the image below.
For a school district in Pennsylvania, the problem hasn't been students Juuling in school, but rather the charging of the devices in class.
Dr. Deborah S. Wheeler, Upper Dublin's superintendent, told Bleeping Computer that some of their students have been using the USB ports of the district's Chromebooks to charge their Juuls. As the Juuls look very similar to USB drives, it was harder for teacher to spot students charging these devices.
It makes it even more difficult to spot when student's use 3rd party chargers that allow the Juul to be charged in a horizontal orientation so it looks like an inserted USB drive.
When asked if the banning of USB keys has had any effect, Wheeler told Bleeping Computer that she does "believe that the incidence of charging juuls in school has been reduced based on our discipline data".
While, banning technology can be problematic, this seems like a reasonable approach for the school district as Wheeler has told us that they use Google Classroom and do not need USB drives for the transferring of data.