Sunday, July 20, 2008

Honey, who's watching the kids?

If you search "surveillance in schools" in Google News you'll find that more and more districts across the country are turning to video surveillance to monitor student and teacher activity in schools, including in some cases in elementary schools. And it seems that it is not just security experts who can watch the live and recorded footage, but also administrators and authorized staff. ( e.g. "Thompson District School Board Oks video cameras and High Schools upgrade security camera access )

As NPR reported today, many cities are now using planned wireless networks to link hundreds of surveillance cameras that create greater opportunities for monitoring in areas all over the city, including in public schools as is the case in Chicago. However, as the article also states there is high potential for abuse of surveillance material. The ACLU reported that “video surveillance systems lack an adequate system of checks and balances” and in Privacy International’s 2007 report “the U.S. ranked worst country in the democratic world when it comes to putting laws on the books to protect privacy and enforcing them.” See full article: Cities gone Wireless: Safety or Surveillance? 

Will surveillance and privacy be an issue in the upcoming election? Who is protecting the right to privacy of those young people who can’t yet vote?


Anonymous said...

Why stop at cameras?

Anonymous said...

(clickable link from previous comment "Why stop at cameras?")

Doktor Jon said...

As part of a wider debate, it's also worth considering that the adoption of Video Surveillance technology, isn't necessarily always for the most obvious reasons.

Given the established arguments for both crime reduction / detection and the inherent privacy implications of deploying CCTV, many operators will also be seduced by the secondary benefits of providing a relatively affordable method to counter any possible law suits, for negligence or malpractice.

Not so much a case of simply covering a potential victim, but equally an exercise in covering their own backs.

leonard waks said...

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, a professional organiuzation, warned of the dangers of the emerging surveillance society more than a decade ago.

This is cdlearly an issue that engaged scholars should take up. Thanks, Andrea, for putting this on the agenda.

As the system administrator I am not sure that anonymous comments are useful. At one point I filtered them and approved them on a case by case basis. Should I return to that policy?

Anonymous said...

What right of privacy do you think children have in classrooms in public schools? The right to have nobody look at them or see what they are doing?