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Colleges Are Turning Students' Phones Into Surveillance Machines


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students walking on Syracuse University campus

Syracuse University is among the many schools using tracking systems to monitor students' academic performance and activities.

Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students' academic performance, analyze their conduct, or assess their mental health.

But some professors and education advocates argue that the systems represent a new low in intrusive technology, breaching students' privacy on a massive scale. The tracking systems, they worry, will infantilize students in the very place where they're expected to grow into adults, further training them to see surveillance as a normal part of living, whether they like it or not.

"We're adults. Do we really need to be tracked?" asks Robby Pfeifer, a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, which recently began logging the attendance of students connected to the campus' WiFi network. "Why is this necessary? How does this benefit us? And is it just going to keep progressing until we're micromanaged every second of the day?"

From The Washington Post
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