American colleges and universities are using students’ smartphones to track surveil students on campus. Many students have opted into surveillance programs after being encouraged by their professors.
According to a report by the Washington Post, American colleges and universities are using smartphone technology to track students on campus. The surveillance isn’t exactly a secret. Many students have either been encouraged or required to sign up it by university faculty.
Breitbart News reported in November that Virginia Commonwealth University was tracking classroom attendance using WiFi and BlueTooth technology. Universities install BlueTooth tracking beacons in each classroom that creates a record of each student as they the classroom. Students are then required to install software that allows the university to track when they have entered a classroom. The software then creates a detail report for the university, documenting student attendance.
One student, Robby Pfeifer of Virginia Commonwealth University, told the Washington Post that he thinks it is inappropriate to surveil the behavior of college students.
“We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?” Pfeifer said. “Why is this necessary? How does this benefit us? … And is it just going to keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day?”
Indiana University Professor Kyle M. L. Jones, an expert on student privacy, suggested that the mainstreaming of student surveillance have negative repercussions on other aspects of university life. Students, according to Jones, may be more cautious in what they pursue outside of the classroom due to a fear of being surveilled.
“These administrators have made a justification for surveilling a student population because it serves their interests, in terms of the scholarships that come out of their budget, the reputation of their programs, the statistics for the school,” Jones explained.
Jones went onto argue that universities should drop their emphasis on student surveillance and instead focus on promoting “diversity.”
“What’s to say that the institution doesn’t change their eye of surveillance and start focusing on minority populations, or anyone else?” Jones added.
Many colleges use a service called SpotterEDU to track student attendance. The service, which was created in 2015 by a basketball coach looking to keep track of his athletes, is now used at 40 colleges and universities around the country.
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