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In this anxious era of bullying, teen depression, and school shootings, tech companies are selling software to schools and parents that make big promises about keeping kids secure by monitoring what they say and write online. But these apps demand disturbing trade-offs in the name of safety. In this episode, we dive into the normative, privacy, and transparency implications of this software for both schools and families, and examine how the rush to fix societal problems with technology can amplify harm to young people while enriching companies that stand to profit from increased surveillance.

Show Notes

Gennie Gebhart's bio | Twitter - 00:38

Electronic Frontier Foundation - 1:02

The EFF's 2017 report on student privacy (PDF) - 1:12

"Facial Recognition Tech Comes to Schools and Summer Camps" (Wall Street Journal) - 1:32

"Heal the Internet," our episode on removing tracking pixels from emails - 2:06

"Big Brother at the Office," our episode on workplace surveillance - 2:10

Previous episodes on Big Tech include "100% Facebook-Free," "The Google Ads Shakedown," and "Nevermore, Amazon" - 3:19

"Breaking the Black Box," our episode about algorithmic bias - 3:24

Caroline Haskins on Twitter | her stories for Vice | her stories for BuzzFeed News - 3:51

BuzzFeed News' series on schools and surveillance - 4:04

"Gaggle Knows Everything About Teens And Kids In School" (BuzzFeed News) - 4:06

Gaggle - 4:08

Bark - 7:05

This Vice article takes a closer look at Bark's self-reported safety statistics in North and South Carolina - 7:29

ManagedMethods - 8:31

Bark's FAQs about its Parent Portal - 8:57

Ryan Stanley's op-ed for the Juneau Empire - 10:14

"School computer monitoring program makes botched debut" (Juneau Empire) - 11:10

"Schools make adjustments to Bark" (KINY in Juneau) - 11:15

More anecdotes about false positives can be found in this Guardian piece about school surveillance - 12:25

"Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws" (Rolling Stone) - 13:22

Sarah Roberts, an assistant professor at UCLA - 13:50

Marika Pfefferkorn's LinkedIn profile - 14:21

"When School Feels Like Prison" (The Atlantic) - 14:38

"St. Paul, Ramsey County to end youth data-sharing agreement after withering criticism" (Pioneer Press) - 14:44

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights' FAQ about discriminatory suspensions in public schools - 15:10

"Black kids are way more likely to be punished in school than white kids, study finds" (Vox) - 15:20

The Brennan Center for Justice's report on school spending on social media monitoring - 15:45

"Do metal detectors and X-ray machines belong in schools?" (Washington Post) - 16:42

"School Officer: A Job With Many Roles and One Big Responsibility" (New York Times)  - 16:46

"School apps track students from classroom to bathroom, and parents are struggling to keep up" (Washington Post) - 16:52

"The algorithms that detect hate speech online are biased against black people" (Vox) - 17:15

"For Immigrant Students, a New Worry: A Call to ICE" (New York Times) - 17:34

EndTAB - 22:39

"Cameras, surveillance, and the sinister tech behind domestic abuse" - 22:54

"A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying" (Pew Research) - 23:24

Apple's Family Sharing feature | Find My device - 24:02

Life360 - 24:14

The Coalition Against Stalkerware - 25:16

"FTC Brings First Case Against Developers of 'Stalking' Apps" (press release) - 25:24

This report by software company Malwarebytes summarizes how parental monitoring apps work the same, on a technological level, as stalkerware - 26:05

"Are Minnetonka Public Schools secretly monitoring students' social media posts?" (MinnPost) - 29:37

"Will my child know that Bark is installed?" (Bark FAQ) - 30:28

ScreenGuide - 31:49

"Cambridge Analytica: how did it turn clicks into votes?" (The Guardian) - 34:15

In Maryland, a parent got his local school district to conduct a "data deletion week" - 34:45

Have I Been Pwned - 36:23

"What does the panopticon mean in the age of digital surveillance?" (The Guardian) - 38:21

Dignity in Schools | Counselors Not Cops - 40:14

Surveillance Self-Defense (EFF) - 40:22

What is Rework?

A podcast by Basecamp about the better way to work and run your business. We bring you stories and unconventional wisdom from Basecamp’s co-founders and other business owners.