Texas Students Are Being Monitored Online Without Their Consent
Public school districts across the state of Texas are using technology to keep tabs on student social media and online activity, many times without the student's knowledge or consent.
The Dallas Morning News reports schools are spending millions of tax dollars on monitoring technology that is designed to protect students.
The proliferation of student surveillance has been fueled by nationwide fears about school shootings, suicides and cyberbullying. Among school districts, no state has more contracts with digital surveillance companies than Texas, according to GovSpend, a company that tracks government spending.
Using school records and purchasing data, The News examined some of the most widely used monitoring technologies in Texas schools: Social Sentinel, Gaggle, Securly and GoGuardian. In the past six years, more than 200 districts statewide have used these technologies.
Some districts that are using surveillance companies in Texas are not informing parents or students of this monitoring activity.
School officials from Stafford, Smyer, Woodville, Vidor and Blooming Grove ISDs also said they never notified parents or students about the surveillance.
“It’s something that just happens behind the scenes,” Rick Hartley, superintendent of Blooming Grove ISD, said of Gaggle.
Gaggle CEO Jeff Patterson said in a statement that the company encourages schools to be transparent about their service, but they leave it to districts to handle how they communicate with students and parents.
The report from the Dallas Morning News goes on to say it is unclear whether the monitoring technologies used by these districts cross a legal line when it comes to student privacy.
So, what is your opinion of Texas school districts using these surveillance companies to monitor student online activity? What about privacy issues? Is this akin to "Big Brother"? We would like to know what you think. Let us know what you think on Facebook or on our station app.