Privacy SOS

Company markets 24/7 school surveillance and monitoring

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A surveillance company called IPVideo has established a fusion center of its own, where retired police officers and military employees monitor live feeds from cameras installed at businesses and even schools nationwide. Schools are increasingly targets of surveillance camera manufacturers, which with the help of DOJ and DHS federal grant programs are installing expensive monitoring technology in even small districts nationwide.

In our 'do the surveillance first, wonder about efficacy and ethics later — if ever' 2013 society, hardly anyone even bothers to ask about what we are doing to and teaching our children when we install surveillance cameras in their classrooms and schools.

But we need to ask. What's the point of having surveillance cameras in schools? Don't they pose unique risks to young people who are trying to get an education? And what are children learning when they spend the vast majority of their time under the watchful eye of the state security apparatus, or its private contractor?

These questions aren't at all relevant to the television news anchors in the piece embedded above, who do not even mention student privacy or interview any concerned parents. All we hear about is how great the cameras are, and how wonderful is the company promoting them.

One of the company spokesmen tells Fox NY that the cameras are for preventative purposes, but the only statistic cited in the clip is about vandalism. Apparently one school that contracts with this firm has saved $100k because students are too afraid to write on their desks or lockers, knowing that random men are watching them from a bunker-like command center somewhere miles away, and that they might get in trouble for breaking the rules.

Surveillance systems don't come cheap, but there's no mention in this 'news' clip of either the monetary or societal cost of pervasive monitoring in schools. At least someone is getting rich.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.