PI's submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education's report on academic freedom

Our submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education on academic freedom and surveillance of educational institutions.


At PI we have been observing with concern the rapid expansion of technologies in educational settings, which has included a wide array of tools that allow the surveillance of students and academic staff, to the detriment of their privacy and academic freedom. 

We consider this upcoming report as an essential platform to examine the intricate interplay between academic freedom, freedom of expression, and surveillance conducted by both public and private entities through Education Technologies (EdTech). 

In our submission, we recommended the UN Special Rapporteur to call on states to: 

  • Adhere to human rights standards: Uphold international and national human rights standards, prioritizing the right to privacy as a foundational gateway right crucial for ensuring academic freedom. Additionally, consider the rights of the child in the context of EdTech. 
  • Regulate EdTech use: Implement regulations governing the use of EdTech in academic settings (including private institutions), ensuring alignment with robust data protection standards and to guarantee educational institutions create an environment which enables rather than supresses academic freedom.
  • Ban facial recognition technology (FRT) in educational settings: Prohibit the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in educational settings due to its disproportionate impact, security risks, inaccuracies, and discriminatory biases that pose threats to academic freedom.
  • Conduct human rights due diligence: Implement robust human rights due diligence processes, including data protection and child rights impact assessments prior and throughout to their deployment in educational settings.
  • Formal public procurement processes: Adhere to formal and transparent public procurement processes when awarding contracts to EdTech companies, accompanied by comprehensive documentation governing the partnership.

Read our full submission.