I missed the vertical integration aspect of this in earlier reporting I’ve read. It makes this story even worse.
link to ‘‘Ring Nation’ Is a Terrible Idea That’s Unstoppable Because Amazon Owns Everything’
This is a gross idea for a TV show, and I’m glad people are pushing back against it.
link to ‘Dozens of civil rights groups are calling on Amazon and MGM to cancel Ring Nation reality show - The Verge’
It isn’t that TikTok doesn’t pose a real threat, it’s that it’s not alone in doing so. In particular, I appreciate that this article points out that U.S. border agents REGULARLY SEARCH COMPUTERS AND SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS. So, yes, raise concerns, but be consistent instead of creating a moral panic around thus one app (which, by the way, would be a privacy threat even if it were totally owned by a U.
I’ve been grumpy about ClassDojo all week, and this is the only thing that’s made me feel better about it—BECAUSE THIS IS SO MUCH WORSE.
link to ‘A Tool That Monitors How Long Kids Are in the Bathroom Is Now in 1,000 American Schools’
These numbers sound great, but what cost are we paying? I’m not talking about the $70,000, I’m talking about the hard to quantify costs of surveillance—which, as the ACLU of KY points out, are likely to disproportionately target communities of color. Except we can’t know that because the city won’t tell us where the cameras are.
link to ‘Lexington KY looking to address more crime, safety issues | Lexington Herald Leader’
I’ve been blogging about ClassDojo enough over the past few weeks that I think it’s time for a quick recap before sharing some of the latest developments. I heard about ClassDojo being used schoolwide back in late July and started wondering what approach I should take as both a student’s parent and an edtech researcher. On Monday of this week, I talked to kiddo’s teacher about it and wrote up some thoughts the next day about teachers’ diminished agency in the realm of edtech.
I really will get back to blogging on other subjects sometime soon, but here’s an email I just sent to kiddo’s principal raising some concerns I have going into the school year. I’m not sure what will come of this—and I’m not at all sure this was the right email to write—but in the off-chance it’s helpful for someone, I thought I’d post about it here.
Dear Principal [so-and-so],
Some really worrying privacy implications in this kind of edtech—and edtech as a discipline doesn’t care nearly enough about this kind of thing. Makes me worried as a scholar and a parent.
link to ‘Kids Are Back in Classrooms and Laptops Are Still Spying on Them’
Who is allowed to watch the watchmen? This is why I’m grumpy about Lexington being hush hush about its new automated license plate readers—it sets a precedent for secretive use of even more invasive surveillance.
link to ‘Police Are Still Abusing Investigative Exemptions to Shield Surveillance Tech, While Others Move Towards Transparency | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
Opting out of location sharing is a good and important step, but there are no tech solutions to this horror—only political ones. We need good legislation, and we need it now.
link to ‘DHS bought “shocking amount” of warrantless phone-tracking data, ACLU says | Ars Technica’
The amount of data collected by TikTok is more concerning for the possibility that it could be fed to Chinese state officials, but it would be just as concerning if it could be fed to American state officials, and still pretty concerning if only fed to corporate officials.
I’ve seen a number of headlines about how a post-Dobbs world changes the game for online privacy, but this is the first one that I sat down to read. School surveillance software is scary enough without this possibility, so let’s not make it worse. I can’t believe that this software gives schools any benefits that outweigh the heavy cost to students’ privacy.
link to ‘After Dobbs, Advocates Fear School Surveillance Tools Could Put Teens at Risk – The Markup’
I’m not going to link to it, but I am fascinated by a recent post on the Gab blog where Andrew Torba announced some new features to help Gab users push back against research on the platform. Not only do I have two or three ongoing projects using Gab data (one is in the very, very early stages and—ironically—uses Gab blog posts), but some of what Torba wrote also aligned with some of the (fortunately mild) trolling my co-author, Amy Chapman, and I have experienced because of my work on the far-right-influenced DezNat hashtag in Mormon Twitter.
Gun violence can’t be solved with educational technology—and make no mistake, all of this is edtech.
link to ‘Schools Are Spending Billions on High-Tech Defense for Mass Shootings - The New York Times’
Heard a kid crying in the background of a company’s help line and realized it used one of those often-exploitative work-from-home customer service networks. That made me more mad than issue I was calling about.
I’ve been plenty spooked by Ring’s video capabilities, but apparently I haven’t been worried enough about its audio surveillance.
link to ‘Senator Declares Amazon Ring’s Audio Surveillance Capabilities ‘Threaten the Public’ | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
The only thing worse than the already-bad reality of powerful, private data brokers is public agencies buying what they have to sell.
link to ‘How the Federal Government Buys Our Cell Phone Location Data | Electronic Frontier Foundation’
This kind of social media surveillance has been bothering me for years. I’m happy it’s getting some attention, even if the impetus for that attention is such a tragedy. This is edtech and our discipline needs to treat it as such.
link to ‘Software to detect school threats online is costly but mostly ineffective.’
This article may make its way into a chapter I’m writing on how assumptions about education shape our understanding of what appropriate data collection looks like. As Audrey Watters has written, this kind of thing is very much edtech, and we need to be critical about how we deploy it. Even if it did work, I’m not sure the surveillance would be worth it. If it doesn’t work, all the more reason to be skeptical.
There are a few yellow flags in this article for me. Quick and efficient sounds good, but are those the most important values in policing? What values do they stand in tension with? It’s great that there are policies against using a ALPR database for personal reasons, but these policies regularly get violated. No, these aren’t videosurveillance cameras, but that doesn’t make them harmless.
link to ‘New Flock security cameras being installed in Lexington by end of May | Lexington Herald Leader’
Frustrating to see steps that feel like progress seem to shore up the tech giants I hoped were being kept in check.
link to ‘How You’re Still Being Tracked on the Internet - The New York Times’
The focus on student learning in this year’s AECT reviews is good, but I worry that it blinds us to other important ed tech questions. I’d struggle to describe how surveillance, ethics, privacy impact student learning, but we desperately need that research too-or more!
Do not be fooled by the headline, the article’s best contribution is its indictment of U.S. politicians and companies for their complicity in this sort of thing.
link to ‘Nokia Busted Helping Russia’s FSB Spy On Citizens, Activists, Journalists | Techdirt’
Remembering the time that the only person at church who understood my dissertation research was the one who worked for the state of Michigan doing social media surveillance of social justice movements.
Let me get this straight: Invasive surveillance isn’t enough, now companies are creating opportunities to cheat just so they can ding them and take credit for stopping it?
link to ‘A Network of Fake Test Answer Sites Is Trying to Incriminate Students – The Markup’
We should all be concerned about this. Describing this as “high tech” in the first line of the story fetishizes surveillance. It’s gross.
link to ‘Lexington KY police test license plate cameras to solve crime | Lexington Herald Leader’
Stingrays are bad news, and so is the ability to buy them without public scrutiny.
[link to ‘Boston Police Bought Spy Tech With a Pot of Money Hidden From the Public — ProPublica’](https://www.propublica.org/article/boston-police-bought-spy-tech-with-a-pot-of-money-hidden-from-the-public
This report sounds terrifying. Even the Capitol rioters deserve some freedom from this kind of surveillance.
link to ‘Report - Legal Loopholes and Data for Dollars: How Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies Are Buying Your Data from Brokers - Center for Democracy and Technology’
Nope nope nope nope. If plate readers are going to become more common, I’ve got to start biking more places. Not that that will protect against Ring. 🤮🤮🤮
link to ‘Surveillance Startup Brings Police Tech to Neighborhoods - Bloomberg’
This blurb stood out to me: “Apple says, relentlessly, that privacy is the central feature of its iPhones. But as the photo scanning demonstrates, that’s true only until Apple changes its mind about its policies.” Seems to me we shouldn’t be dependent on tech companies’ decisions to ensure privacy.
link to Opinion | The Illusion of Privacy Is Getting Harder to Sell - The New York Times
Please also give me the confidence of an Apple exec explaining how scanning all your photos is “an advancement of the state of the art in privacy.”
It really bothers me when browsers hide anything after the domain name in a URL. Sure, it’s cleaner, but there’s so much important information (and low-key surveillance) embedded in a URL, and I want to know about all of it.
Does anyone know of research on social media surveillance by school districts? Some local news stories have me thinking of a potential future project…