A bombshell new report has exposed something terrifying: school districts across the country are quietly installing invasive monitoring software on students’ laptops, and using artificial intelligence surveillance tools that allow school officials and police to track everything kids and teens are saying and doing both inside and outside of school.
Software like Gaggle, GoGuardian, Proctorio, ExamSoft, Securly, and Bark isn’t just unfair and discriminatory, it makes students less safe. Some of these tools are technologically indistinguishable from “stalkerware,” used by hackers and abusers to take control of their victims’ devices.
In one harrowing example reported by WIRED, a school district sent high school students home with Chromebooks pre-loaded with a monitoring software called Gaggle. Students plugged their personal smartphones into the laptops in order to charge them, and continued texting normally on their phones, assuming their conversations were private. But the surveillance software on their laptops could see everything they were doing on their phones, and sent alerts to school officials when teenagers consensually sent each other nude pictures.
The report from the Center for Democracy and Technology found that nearly half of teachers surveyed said a student had been contacted by the police after student monitoring software flagged their conversations. And 13% of students said they knew an LGBTQ+ peer who had been outed because of monitoring software. At a time when government officials in many states are criminalizing reproductive health care and ordering schools to investigate families of trans kids, this is terrifying. This software is putting students’ lives in danger. Period.
But the good news is that elected officials and regulators are starting to pay attention to this. If enough people speak out right now, we can stop this type of unsafe school surveillance from becoming cemented into our future.
Sign the petition to tell the Department of Education and its Office for Civil Rights: “Immediately issue a policy statement to K-12 schools across the country against the use of dangerous student monitoring software.”