An American Civil Liberties Union report found that despite claims from companies, surveillance technology in schools does not improve student safety and constant surveillance can cause a number of harms to students, including making students less likely to report dangerous behavior, the Guardian reports. Schools typically use technologies such as cameras, facial recognition software and communication monitoring and filtering technology, which have been marketed by education technology surveillance companies as intervention tools against school shootings, suicides and bullying. In 2021, U.S. schools and colleges spent $3.1 billion on these products and this number is expected to grow by 8% every year, the report said. It concludes that there is little to no independent research or evidence that supports that this technology works. Surveillance tech companies say their technology can and has been effective at preventing conflict, violence, abuse and self-harm.
Gaggle, a company that provides surveillance technology and software for K-12 grade schools, claims its products are effective at “preventing suicides”, “preventing school violence” and “limiting bullying and harassing." The ACLU's Chad Marlow, the report’s lead author, said that from a research standpoint, these claims are impossible to prove and are misleading to school officials and administrators. The report’s extensive review of tech companies’ websites and marketing materials showed that companies rarely provide any data to support claims around efficacy. Outside of schools, research has shown that camera surveillance is largely ineffective as a crime deterrent. In the last two decades, eight out of the ten most deadly school shootings took place in schools with surveillance video cameras. Although school shootings and suicides are rare events, they are every parent’s worst nightmare and the fear is very real, Marlow said. That makes these products easy to sell and market to schools, he says.