EdTech: Surveillance Tracker

Students shouldn’t have to trade their right to privacy in order to access their right to an education.

The use of Education Technology (EdTech) has been expanding rapidly all over the world, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

That expansion frequently hasn't been accompanied by appropriate safeguards or responsible practices, from data protection to procurement to respect for human rights - too many EdTech solutions and schools that use them are falling short of human rights protections.

We have been tracking the use of EdTech around the world to better understand the trends and shortcomings and strengthen ours and others understanding regarding these issues.

This page will be updated as we find more examples and stories about EdTech from all around the world.

04 Feb 2024
Some UK schools have bought and installed sensors in toilets that 'actively listen' to pupils' conversations to try to detect keywords spoken by pupils. The sensors are being sold to detect vaping, bullying, and other problems. However, privacy campaigners say these sensors are potentially a
27 Sep 2023
The New York State Department of Education has prohibited schools in New York State from purshasing or using facial recognition technology. Schools can use other types of biometric identifying technology as long as they consider the privacy implications. Article: New York State bans facial
22 Sep 2023
New research shows that schools' scramble to adopt new technologies in schools have given for-profit companies a massive opening into the data of young people's everyday lives and created an $85 billion industry that has brought security and privacy risks for all concerned. Schools, meanwhile, lack
14 Sep 2023
Google is working to extend the lifespan of Chromebooks by providing software updates for up to a decade. The new policy, which will begin in 2024, will ensure that no current Chromebook expires in the next two years. The expiration dates were proving expensive for schools, which were having to
12 Sep 2023
The facial recognition system the Indian state of Telangana intends to adopt for taking attendance in schools will be AI-enhanced, eliminate the paper register via an Android app, serve 2.6 million students in 26,000 schools, and be extended to teachers after it has been successfully implemented for
01 Sep 2023
An app used by more than 100 Bristol schools has raised concern among criminal justice and anti-racism campaigners that the easy access it gives safeguarding leads to pupils' and their families' contacts with police, child protection, and welfare services risks increasing discrimination against
30 Aug 2023
Chromebooks, which many schools purchased at the beginning of the pandemic because of their lower cost compared to PCs and Macs, are proving expensive as their prices rise, the cost of repairs bites, and Google's expiration policy means many models are about to become e-waste. A study from US PIRG
28 Aug 2023
An investigation finds that using search tools provided by the College Board, the organisation that administers SATs and Advanced Placement exams for university-bound students, prompts it to send details of SAT scores, grade point averages, and other data to Facebook, TikTik, and other companies via
23 Aug 2023
Fairplay and the Center for Digital Democracy are asking the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Google and YouTube are violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and the terms of a 2019 settlement agreement by serving children personalised ads on videos labelled "made for
22 Aug 2023
Following a report from Human Rights Watch, The Public Ministry of São Paolo began an investigation to find out whether government education platforms and services collected students' personal data and sent it to adtech companies in violation of the General Data Protection Law. Article: São Paolo
04 Aug 2023
Education experts and publishers in Brazil are warning of the negative consequences of a decision by the São Paolo state government to replace textbooks with ebooks for students over 14 starting in 2024. Many students have no Internet access, and publishers argue it will irreparably damage the
19 Jun 2023
UK government ministers are seeking to ensure schools benefit financially from any future use of pupils’ data by large language models such as those behind ChatGPT and Google Bard. Data from the national pupil database is already available to third-party organisations. The BCS head of education
23 May 2023
According to police plans to enhance “school safety”, security cameras and facial recognition will monitor children in Hong Kong in class and around educational facilities. The move is part of a trend also found in China, India, and the US toward mining children’s data, even though few benefits have
27 Apr 2023
Wisconsin schools use a racially discriminatory Dropout Early Warning System built by the state to identify incoming 9th graders who may be at risk of failing to graduate on time in order to offer them help. The system’s machine learning algorithms make their assessments based on test scores
20 Apr 2023
The Court of Appeals for British Columbia rejected the claim made by whistleblower Ian Linkletter that linking to freely available materials from the remote proctoring company Proctorio was legitimate criticism. The company has a history of attacking those who criticise it and its products
19 Apr 2023
Following pilots in Nirmal and Jayashankar Bhupalpally districts, the government of the Indian state of Telangana is planning on adopting facial recognition software to manage attendance in the schools. Officials have said the system should ensure every transaction is transparent and traceable and
17 Apr 2023
Data-driven wellbeing audits are becoming common in classrooms in Denmark, which has long invested heavily in digital teaching aids and interactive learning. In the last few decades, depression among Danish children has sextupled, and a quarter of ninth-graders report having attempted self-harm
03 Apr 2023
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is using an obscure administrative subpoena called “1509”, intended for use only in criminal investigation about illegal imports or unpaid customs duty. Most requests have sought records from telecommunications companies, technology firms, money transfer
03 Apr 2023
Human Rights Watch called on the national government of Brazil to amend the country's data protection law to add new safeguards to protect children online following the discovery that seven educational webistes directed at Brazilian students, including two created by state education secretariats
17 Mar 2023
The Office of the Information Commissioner has warned Scotland's North Ayrshire council that it has likely infringed data protection law by using facial recognition technology in nine schools. North Ayrshire used the iPayimpact contactless system for payment for meals, and claimed that 97% of
27 Feb 2023
Months after a District Court judgment that Cleveland State University violated student privacy in requiring the use of an online proctoring service that required a scan of students' rooms, some professors California colleges were still using such software for remote exams. Privacy rights
01 Feb 2023
The UK Information Commissioner's Office has reprimanded North Ayrshire council for installing iPayimpact facial recognition technology in nine schools without obtaining adequate consent. The system was intended to speed cashless lunch payments. The council withdrew the system and deleted the data
23 Jan 2023
A security flaw in the mandatory "Diksha" app operated by the Education Ministry, which became an important tool for giving students access to coursework while at home during the pandemic, exposed the data of millions of Indian students and teachers for more than a year when a cloud server hosted on
19 Jan 2023
The Mississippi legislature has introduced a bill that would require public schools and postsecondary institutions to install video surveillance cameras that record audio throughout their campuses, including in classrooms, auditoriums, cafeterias, gyms, hallways, recreational areas, and along each
22 Dec 2022
In a preliminary ruling, the administrative court of Montreuil suspended the use of algorithmic e-proctoring software called TestWe after students at the Institute of Distant Study of the University of Paris 8 brought a legal case, assisted by La Quadrature du Net. The plaintiffs argued that the
20 Dec 2022
The pro-Ukrainian hacker group NLB Team leaked the personal data of more than 17 million children and parents who used Moscow Electronic School, an online learning platform that was built by the Moscow city government in 2016 and was its primary method of delivery online education during the covid
09 Dec 2022
In an unprecedented interim ruling, a student has provided sufficient facts to uphold a complaint that the Free University discriminated against her when its anti-cheating algorithm failed to log her in via face detection, likely due to the darker colour of her skin. The university has ten weeks to
22 Nov 2022
The French minister of national education and youth has advised schools not to use the free versions of Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace because French public procurement contracts require payment. Paid versions may be allowed if they do not violate data protection rules, including a 2020
22 Nov 2022
In a report, the Privacy Coimmissioner of Canada has said that online proctoring tools used to conduct remote exams fail to get sufficiently free, clear, and individual consent from students. Besides this overreach, the report identifies factors that may trigger false alerts and errors in the
18 Nov 2022
In a report, the Center for Democracy and Technology finds that student privacy laws are insufficient to protect students in the face of increasing use of remote education technologies and insufficient staff and other resources. CDT examined the practices of 43 local education authorities and their
10 Nov 2022
German data protection authorities have ruled that the use of Microsoft Office 365 in schools is not compliant with GDPR, citing a lack of transparency around how and where Microsoft processes and stores student data as well as the potential for third-party access. German federal and state data
20 Oct 2022
Ohio teenager Aaron Ogletree has won a lawsuit he filed against Cleveland State University after he was required to pan a webcam around his bedroom to eliminate possible cheating before taking a remote exam. The court agreed that Ogletree's Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the scanning
30 Sep 2022
At least 37 US colleges and universities, as well as numerous school district, have repurposed Social Sentinel (recently renamed Navigate360 Detect) to help campus police surveil student protests. The software is marketed as a safety tool that can scan students' social media posts and university
15 Sep 2022
US parents have reported receiving an explicit and deliberately shocking image after hackers attacked the primary school learning app Seesaw. Seesaw has 10 million users, who include teachers, students, and family members. The company said the hackers had not gained administrative access, but had
02 Sep 2022
In September 2022, the UK Department for Education announced that under a £270,000 contract with Suffolk-based Wonde Ltd it would collect data on children's school attendance and potentially share it with other government departments and third parties as part of its drive to raise attendance. A
25 Aug 2022
A US federal judge has ruled in the case Ogiltree v. Cleveland State University that "room scans", the common requirement in remotely proctored exams to provide a 360-degree scan of the area in which students are taking tests, are an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. Often these areas
13 Aug 2022
During a remotely proctored online exam, a number of students on the Bar Professional Training Course urinated in bottles and buckets and wore adult diapers rather than risk the possibility that their exam would be terminated if they left their screens long enough to go to the toilet. The Bar
03 Aug 2022
The 32-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act is failing to protect neurodivergent students from school monitoring and risk assessment software that treats any divergence from stereotypically "normal" behaviour as a harm to both the students themselves and others. Remote proctoring software
03 Aug 2022
Even though schools are back in session in person, their teachers can still monitor the screens on their school-issued devices via software such as GoGuardian. In a new report from the Center for Democracy and Technology, 89% of teachers say their schools will continue to use student-monitoring
01 Aug 2022
In a report, the UK's Digital Futures Commission warns that the explosion of use of education technology brings risks to children's privacy, especially that the data it collects, much of it personally identifiable, will be entered into the heavily commercial global data ecosystem, with uncertain
28 Jul 2022
The Welsh Local Government Association is collaborating with the Centre for Digital Public Services on an 8-to-12-week discovery project to help local authorities to understand schools' requirements for information management systems and understand the market offerings in order to formulate a needs
08 Jul 2022
Following the US Supreme Court's Dobbs decision that paved the way for states to enact legislation criminalising abortion, health advocates warn that the surveillance software schools use to algorithmically monitor students' messages and search terms could be weaponised against teens looking for
25 May 2022
A report finds that most of the education technology endorsed by 49 governments in the rush to online learning during the covid-19 pandemic puts at risk or directly violates the privacy and rights of children for purposes unrelated to their education. Such platforms track children across the
17 May 2022
After an in-person auction in São João let Brazilian technology companies bid for a contract to supply facial recognition technology to the public school system. PontoID, which won the $162,000 contract, began secretly rolling out the technology without informing parents or students in advance. The
19 Apr 2022
Intel, in partnership with the software company Classroom Technologies, has developed an AI facial analysis system ("Class") by training an algorithmic model based on labels psychologists applied to the emotions they could detect in videos of students in real-life classrooms. The software is
24 Feb 2022
A student in Minneapolis was outed when their parents were contacted by school administrators when surveillance software found LGBTQ keywords in their writing on a school-supplied laptop. The risk of many more such cases is increasing as the use of edtech spread, fuelled by the pandemic, and
08 Feb 2022
An increasingly broad range of US government agencies - including the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Social Security Administration, and the departments of Agriculture, Education, and Housing and Urban Development - are able to break into encrypted phones and copy their data using technology
09 Dec 2021
The Nigerian startup uLesson, which began by offering pre-recorded lessons on dongles, now delivers livestreamed interactive video classes to learners in a number of African countries as well as the US and UK. One of uLesson's investors is Tencent, which also backed at least three Chinese EdTech
19 Oct 2021
A new report from the education news site The 74 Million finds that in-school digital surveillance programs are flagging LGBTQ+ content as "pornographic". For example, Gaggle, comprehensive monitoring software implemented in the Minneapolis public school system, has led administrators to notify
21 Sep 2021
A new report finds that monitoring software is in wide use in US K-12 schools, and that teachers, parents, and students generally believe the benefits outweigh the risks while still expressing some privacy and equity concerns. The authors recommend transparency, data minimisation, and mitigation of
30 Aug 2021
Since launching its The Learning App in 2015, the Indian EdTech company Byju's had grown to serve more than 80 million users and 5.5 million paid subscribers by 2021; it provides learning programs for students aged four years old and up. However, former employees say that underpinning the company's
03 Sep 2020
A 12-year-old boy and his parent worked out how to game the grading algorithm used by the testing software Edgenuity by including a list of keywords alongisde two full sentences in responses to short-answer questions. Students at others of the more than 20,000 schools that use Edgenuity use this and
05 Nov 2019
The Focus1, or FuSi, from the US-based startup BrainCo, claims to measure how closely students are paying attention via electrodes that detect brain activity and send the data to teachers’ computers or a mobile app. Lights on the headband glow red, yellow, or blue to signify the level of engagement
10 Jul 2019
A coalition of 33 civil rights, disabilities, privacy, and education advocacy groups are pushing the state of Florida to stop developing the Florida Schools Safety Portal, a database of detailed information about students for the claimed purpose of preventing school shootings, calling it a "massive
18 Apr 2017
English school head teachers were asked to fill out a census form designed in partnership with the Department of Education and hosted by Capita that included fields asking for pupils’ asylum status, ethnicity, and passport numbers and export dates. Families are meant to be advised it’s not mandatory
31 Mar 2017
The UK’s education watchdog, Ofsted, is considering checking pupils’ and parents’ social media pages to ensure that schools maintain their standards. Privacy campaigners oppose the plan as overreach, while representatives of teachers’ unions warned the information would be unreliable. https://inews
17 Jan 2017
Experiments with personalised technology-mediated learning have been successful in the controlled environment of charter schools, but now must prove their worth in traditional district schools with much larger class sizes, more rigid schedules, long-established teaching and learning cultures, and
04 Nov 2016
The Innovation Academy in Sunrise, Arizona, is experimenting with offering 90 sixth through eighth-graders self-paced computerised lessons that generate data four teachers can use to monitor their progress, spot students who need help, and develop small-group activities. Key to the programme is
23 Sep 2015
Many US schools give students tablets, but the key to their successful use is providing data plans. The US's "homework gap" is the lack of at-home Internet access that keeps many children from being able to use the benefit from the many investments in edtech that are being made. In a new intiative
25 Jun 2014
The spread of edtech has not, as hoped, levelled the playing field but widened the gap in skills between children of affluence and children of poverty, a new study finds. Removing problems of access - for example, by placing computers in public libraries - doesn't solve this because given access
12 Oct 2010
In a 2010 case, the Lower Merion school district in suburban Philadelphia school district agreed to pay $610,000 to settle two lawsuits brought by students who had discovered that the webcams attached to their school-issued laptops had secretly taken hundreds of photographs of them in their homes

Parents and teachers of students enrolled in the São Paolo state education network report that the Minha Escola SP app was auto-installed without permission on the phones of students at state schools and their guardians in order to increase student engagement and family participation. The Department of Education is investigating the circumstances.

São Paolo state education network forces monitoring app download
Publication: CNN Brazil
Writer: Renato Pereira