Recent reports have surfaced that republicans are pushing hard for a Bill by Cornyn entitled, The Response Act which seeks to require public schools to use surveillance technology to monitor students’ online behavior for signs of violence or self-harm. The claim is that this will help prevent mass shootings and other incidents of violence. The fact remains that many American schools already monitor their student's online activity, their emails, etc. and constantly look for any signs of disturbed behavior or violent tendencies. This is just in addition to that!
Needless to say, privacy advocates like Amelia Vance are quite concerned about this.
There’s no hard data on how many public schools are already monitoring what students write 24 hours a day. But Vance estimates that only a third of US school districts, at most, currently use this technology.
What the government is trying to do is no different than a very crude version of the strategy used in the popular movie Minority Report in which Tom Cruise tries to predict crimes based on surveillance data gathered by a bunch of clairvoyants.
Fighting the illegal surveillance!
But can crimes be really predicted? There is no data or evidence to suggest that violence can be predicated in this manner. Privacy advocates are also concerned that false positives (based on phrases like To kill a mocking bird) will surface a lot and waste everyone's time.
Another aspect to consider in all this is the emerging surveillance industry. Apparently, fear of mass shootings has resulted in a drastic growth of this industry, particularly after a shooting incident in Parkland, Florida last year which left 17 people dead. Many surveillance equipment companies are marketing hard with lives saved statistics to schools which have already invested heavily in surveillance products.
Only time will tell how this Minority Effort strategy of the government will work in the coming time.