Peak indifference to surveillance

Cory Doctorow said:

In the educational domain we see a lot of normalisation of designing computers so that their users can’t override them. For example, school-supplied laptops can be designed so that educators can monitor what their users are doing. . . . [Students] are completely helpless because their machines are designed to prevent them from doing anything.

We have this path of surveillance that starts with prisoners, then mental patients, refugees, students, benefits claimants, blue collar workers and then white collar workers. That’s the migration path for surveillance and students are really low in the curve. People who work in education are very close to the front lines of the legitimisation of surveillance and designing computers to control their users rather than being controlled by users.


2 Responses to “Peak indifference to surveillance”

  1. I’m not sure I can track with you on this one. We are serving our students by limiting the freedom that they are not quite capable of handling (first hand current experience). Our goal is to lift limitations and build self control in our students as they mature, but too much freedom turned out to be a disservice to their education. I would love to know your thoughts.

  2. I agree that we should be engaging in gradual release as students move up the grades. We should set up our filtering systems to know the difference between a 3rd grader and an 11th grader (and an adult employee). We also should be able to implement other differential access levels for, say, individual students who make mistakes and need some temporary restrictions.

    What we should not do is either assume that all students are the same and thus require similar filtering, even when in the same age or grade, or that the default should be blocked rather than open. We should not punish the 95% for the 5%. We should assume that most students have the ability to handle administrative rights unless proven otherwise. We should respect students rather than demonize them. We should recognize that Internet filtering and the ability to control one’s computer are instructional and life success issues, not IT issues. And so on…

    If most schools and districts were this thoughtful about this issue, all of this wouldn’t be a concern.

    You asked! 🙂

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