Tech

Children are back in the classroom and laptops are still monitoring them


What are these What high school teachers see when they open GoGuardian, a popular software application used to track student activity: A familiar interface, like the library look of a big Zoom call. But instead of seeing the teen’s face in each frame, the teacher sees a thumbnail showing each student’s laptop screen. They watched as students’ cursors hovered over lines of sonnets or the word “chlorofluorocarbon” appeared, carefully typed in the search bar. If a student gets caught up in a distraction — an online game, a stunt video — the teacher can see that too and can prompt the student to stay on task via a private message sent via GoGuardian. If this student has left the assignment too many times, the teacher can remotely control the device and manually disconnect the tab.

Newly supervised student monitoring software in the process Covid-19 pandemic. As students in the US were forced to continue their schooling, many brought home school-issued devices. Wrapped in these machines is software that can allow teachers view and control student screensuse WHO to scan text from student emails and cloud-based documents and, in extreme cases, send educators alerts about potential threats of violence or mental health harm and local law enforcement after school.

Now that the majority of American students have finally returned to school in person, the surveillance software that has thrived during the pandemic will be on their school-issued devices, where it will continue to track them. . Based on a report published today from the Center for Democracy and Technology, 89 percent of teachers say their schools will continue to use student monitoring software, up 5 percentage points from last year. At the same time, the inversion of Roe v. Wade led to New concerns about digital surveillance in states that have made abortion care illegal. Targeting suggestions LGBTQ youth, such as the Texas governor’s call to investigate the families of the children looking for gender affirmation careraises further concern about how data collected through school-issued devices could be weaponized in September.

The CDT report also reveals how surveillance software can bridge the gap between classrooms and carceral systems. Forty-four percent of teachers reported that at least one student at their school was contacted by law enforcement due to behaviors flagged by surveillance software. And 37 percent of teachers who say their school uses regular after-school activity monitoring report that such alerts are routed to “a third party focused on public safety” (e.g.: local police station, immigration enforcement agency). “Schools have institutionalized and revolutionized law enforcement access to student information,” said Elizabeth Laird, civil technology equity director at CDT.

U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey recently raised concerns about the software facilitating contact with law enforcement, suggesting that these products may also be used by law enforcement. used to criminalize students who seek reproductive health resources on school-issued devices. The senators sought feedback from four major surveillance companies: GoGuardian, Gaggle, Securly and Bark for Schools, which collectively reach out to thousands of school districts and millions of American students.

Widespread concern about youth mental health and school violence lends a gritty backdrop to the back-to-school season. After the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, Congress passed a law spend $300 million on schools to strengthen their security infrastructure. Surveillance companies voice the fears of educators, often touting the ability of their products to hit student attackers. Securly’s website provides educators with “AI-powered insight into student activity for email, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive files.” It invites them to “approach student safety from all angles, across all platforms, and identify students who may be at risk of harming themselves or others.”

See you after school

Before Roe With the decision to pay more attention to the risks of digital surveillance, lawmakers and privacy advocates have raised concerns about software that monitors students. In March 2022, an investigation led by senators Warren and Markey found that the four aforementioned companies – selling digital student monitoring services to K-12 schools – stated raised “concerns about privacy and fairness.” The survey found that low-income students (which tend to discriminate between blacks and Hispanics) were more dependent on school facilities and under supervision than better-off students; It also found that schools and companies are generally not required to disclose their usage and monitoring levels to students and parents. In some cases, school districts may choose to require a company to send a notice directly to law enforcement rather than contacting the school.

Students are often unaware that their hall AI screens are imperfect and can be misused. An investigation of The 74 Million noticed that Gaggle would send students warning emails about innocuous content, such as profanity in a novel submitted to the school’s literary magazine. A high school newspaper reported that the district used monitoring software to reveal a student’s gender and to the student’s parents. (Today’s report by CDT reveals that 13 percent of students know someone who has been kicked out thanks to student monitoring software.) Texas Student Newspaper Editorial Board argued that their school’s use of software could prevent students from seeking mental health support.

Also surprising are the accounts of surveillance software that breach students’ after-school lives. One vice-principal I spoke with for this story said his district will receive a “Suspicious Content” email notification from Gaggle about sexually explicit photos and profanity from the news. student text messages. But students don’t text on school-issued Chromebooks. When administrators investigated, they learned that while teenagers were at home, they would charge their phones by connecting them to laptops via USB cables. Teens will then continue to have what they perceive to be private conversations over text messages, in some cases, exchanging nudes with significant others — all of this that can be detected by the Gaggle software running on the Chromebook. The school recommends that students do not plug their personal devices into school-issued laptops.

This rampant surveillance has always irked privacy advocates, but the criminalization of reproductive health care in some states makes those problems more serious. It’s not hard to imagine a student living in a state where abortion is illegal when using a search engine to find out-of-state abortion clinics, or chatting online with a friend about pregnancy. Unintended. From there, teachers and administrators can personally notify the student’s parents or local law enforcement.



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