Surveillance software sends students on an outing
Getting your child ready to go back to school in the US? Well, then you’ll need all the essentials: a bulletproof backpack and a school-issued tablet or laptop, pre-programmed with creepy spyware. During the pandemic, remote education sparked a boom in surveillance software that allowed teachers to monitor everything kids did on school-issued devices. However, now that personal education has resumed, electronic supervision has not stopped. On the contrary, it has increased. According to a new report from the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), 89% of teachers have said their schools will continue to use student tracking software, up 5% from last year.
School monitoring software is marketed as a way to protect and protect children. There are several tools out there, but they all make roughly the same promises about using AI-powered insights to prevent things like self-harm, bullying, and school violence. While that all sounds very noble, digital rights experts are concerned that the software, which often runs outside of school hours, works to punish students rather than protect them. According to the CDT report, “discipline appears to be the main intended goal” of the software, and 44% of teachers report that monitoring student activity has resulted in students being approached by law enforcement. “Schools have institutionalized and routinely institutionalized law enforcement access to student information,” a CDT representative told Wired. More specifically, they have institutionalized law enforcement’s access to information from marginalized students: Research shows that low-income and students of color are more likely to use school-provided devices.
The fact that school-published technology has effectively turned into spyware is particularly troubling, as a number of states are seeking to criminalize access to abortions. For example, what happens if someone in a state like Texas were to search for abortion services on their school-provided laptop? Would the police be notified?
The rights and privacy of LGBTQ+ students is also another obvious concern. Research has also found that digital surveillance programs such as Gaggle, which monitors millions of students, falsely mark LGBTQ+ content as “pornographic” and report incidents of students using sexuality-related terms such as “gay” and “lesbian.” Goggle has said this benefits LGBTQ+ students to avoid bullying and harassment. However, several incidents have been reported where the software has told children to their parents without their knowledge or consent. According to the CDT, 13% of students reported that they, or someone they knew, had revealed their gender identity or sexual orientation through student activity monitoring software.
Not only is this software a privacy nightmare, but there are also opportunity costs associated with it. School districts spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on highly problematic monitoring technology, while 94% of teachers are forced to buy school supplies out of pocket. As ACLU advocacy and policy advisor Chad Marlow told Gizmodo, every dollar spent on monitoring software is a dollar not spent paying for mental health professionals or teachers. “She [schools] miss opportunities to get real help that will actually reduce violence, help children feel more protected, and help children get the resources they need.” Ultimately, the boom in student tracking software is a depressing reminder of how little society values teachers and how much it fetishizes technology. You don’t need fancy AI-powered software to find out if a child is struggling or exhibiting problematic behavior. That’s what teachers are for. That’s what school counselors are for. Shall we try funding educators for a change, instead of desperately handing over limited funds to tech bros?
Data Brokers Know When You’re Pregnant, And They Don’t Keep It A Secret
To stay on the topic of “we live in a dystopian digital hell”: a study by Gizmodo identified 32 data brokers selling access to the unique mobile IDs of people labeled as “actively pregnant” or “shopping for maternity products”. At least one company also provided access to a catalog of people using the same types of emergency contraception that some Republicans want to ban or restrict.
TikTokers encourage women to use their vaginal fluids as perfume
It’s apparently called “vabbing”. The idea is that vaginal fluids can contain pheromones that will make everyone around you find you irresistible. You’ll be shocked to learn that real scientists don’t quite agree with the TikTok scientists on this.
Why do men’s paintings cost 10 times more than women’s?
Author Helen Gorrill studied the prices of 5,000 paintings sold around the world and found that for every £1 a male artist earns for his work, a woman earns only 10 cents. “It’s the most shocking gender gap I’ve encountered in any industry,” she said.
Balenciaga tries to sell a $1,790 garbage bag
We really, really need to tax the rich.
Kansas overwhelmingly rejects anti-abortion measure
“It was the first electoral test of support for abortion rights since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June, and the results were unequivocal,” Moira Donegan wrote. “Even in conservative Kansas, abortion rights are popular with most Americans.” But, she adds, you’d never know from the behavior of Democrats who have been “allergic to the full-blown defense of reproductive rights and other so-called ‘culture war’ issues.”
More than 80 men accused of raping eight women appear in South African court
Truly a terrible story.
Malaysian court overturns landmark ruling on women’s citizenship
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that Malaysian women had the same right as men to grant citizenship to their children. Now that has been reversed.
Female journalist told skirt too short when reporting on Alabama execution
Ivana Hrynkiw was forced to trade her skirt for a pair of waterproof fishing waders borrowed from a photographer to report on a man being pumped full of deadly drugs and executed by the state. Another female journalist was subjected to a full body inspection with officials checking the length of her clothing.
The week in the paw triarchate
A Mississippi man said his cat, a rescue service called Bandit, helped prevent real bandits from robbing him. The 20-pound “wake cat” clawed him awake when she heard armed intruders trying to open a back door and foiled the break-in. “I want people to know that you don’t just save a life if you adopt or rescue a pet,” said Bandit’s human. “The tide could be turned. You never know when you save an animal if they are going to save you.”