Total Control: 24 hour surveillance at Universities?

Smile, they’re watching. You might not suspect it but 24 hour surveillance at universities in the UK could become a reality. Amidst apparent rise in crime on UK university campuses, arguments for total control over students activities in regard to aspects of ‘education’ have been in talks. But how far could this snooping go?

The Complete University Guide’s crime statistics for UK universities showed last year that the paranoia surrounding possible malevolent events are somewhat unfounded. Imperial College had 16.8% violent crime take place during the year 2013-2014, while Brunel had 1.62% robberies take place on university grounds, Goldsmiths had 8.28% burglaries in the same year and Kingston University had only 7.97% of violent crimes take place. I’d say those percentages – though not perfect are respectably low, particularly for such a busy inner city like London.

Though this is not the only way we are being watched. In recent years, it’s been reported that some universities are employing data analysis ploys to keep tabs on their pupils. This ranges from the nearing ridiculous; correlating an individual’s use of the library with how likely they are to graduate or drop-out to actually emailing your tutor with a data set on your online resources usage.

Another sinister aspect is the reality that although many of us think what we do on the internet in our own time – away from learning hours is our business – many universities have other ideas. A series of American college’s have been reported as ‘cyber snooping’ or ‘cyber surveillance’, on their students; an Alabama school even hired the FBI to close in on the activity of their pupils social media accounts. Many others have been doing similar for a very long time and in consideration of high profile rape and violent crime investigations that have either been organised or publicised through Twitter, Youtube etc it can be deemed as a positive, rational way to go. Many of these incidents in court, rely on the evidence of the social media documentation to win trials against perpetrators but how far will too far be? And who is to say who and what should be flagged up as inflammatory, cause for caution or even an expellable online offence? Time and technology will tell.

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