Electronic surveillance has become pervasive in British society and civil liberties campaigners have long warned us about how the state is aquiring ever-greater powers to track people’s movements and retain personal data. The UK apparently has the most CCTV cameras per head of population in the world.
Most of us accept that CCTV cameras for the most part do have a positive effect on monitoring and reducing the amount of crime on our streets and as such we are able to ignore them in our daily lives.
We also accept that most office buildings or other places of work have security cameras that monitor who comes in and out of the building.
Attitudes however would be very different if CCTV camera were regularly used to monitor our every move whilst at work. Imagine our employers sitting in their office watching what we do throughout the day, what we say to customers, how we say it, seeing what web pages we visit and what we write in our emails.
For most of us, this would be a step too far. However, this is exactly what is starting to happen in many UK schools. CCTV cameras which were once installed to keep a check on pupil behaviour throughout the school are now being used to monitor the teacher’s performance during lessons.
This practice has caused an angry response from teachers and their unions, Chris Keates of the NASUWT said, “No other profession would tolerate this kind of surveillance. Why should teachers be expected to?”
There are concerns that often teachers aren’t aware they are being monitored and that schools have no CCTV policy in place to legitimise what they are doing.
Read the full news report here
And this kind of surveillance isn’t just restricted to teachers. There was a recent furore caused in the US where a school was accused of spying on pupils at home by remotely activating webcams on the laptops they had given them. Read the full story here
Can anyone else see the uncanny parallel with the infamous George Orwell book, 1984 where the State monitored and controlled every aspect of peoples’ lives?
This could be used as a discussion point when looking at the ethical use of technology. It would also fit well with topics such as privacy, surveillance and data protection.