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Geofeedia Surveillance Tool Marketed In Public Schools To Monitor Students

First Posted: Oct 19, 2016 04:15 PM EDT
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 21: On the final day of classes before summer break, students from Parkside Community Academy participate in a march against violence through the South Shore neighborhood on June 21, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 21: On the final day of classes before summer break, students from Parkside Community Academy participate in a march against violence through the South Shore neighborhood on June 21, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CIA-backed surveillance software Geofeedia, which enabled several U.S. law enforcement agencies to collect information on social media users, was also marketed to American public schools, in order to monitor its students through their social media posts. Apparently, the data mining firm sold its services to the Lincolnshire-Praire School District in Chicago, which paid $10,000 to monitor some of its students.

Geofeedia Surveillance Tool For Students' Safety

As reported in previous news, Geofeedia has recently been involved in many scandals, since three major social media as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram suspended its access after it was known that the surveillance tool was used to catch and arrest civilian protesters. However, this case apparently was to improve the students' safety.

"We did have for one year a contract with Geofeedia, which earlier in the year received an investment from the CIA's venture capital arm In-Q-Tel. We were mostly interested in the possibility of trying to prevent any kind of harm, either that students would do to themselves or to other students.It was really just about student safety; if we could try to head off any potential dangerous situations, we thought it might be worth it," said spokesperson of Lincolnshire-Praire School District Jim Conrey, according to The Daily Dot.

According to the International Business Times, it is not known how many public schools bought Geofeedia´s surveillance software. Also, it was revealed that the tool was operated by a police liason stationed within the school campus.

Monitoring Public Schools´ Students Might Be A Bypass Of Basic Rights

Although the data mining firm justified its services and nature for safety issues, there are many who found this situation as a threatening precedent for people´s privacy, arguing that spying on innocent people it´s a bypass of the most basic rights.

"Discovering that Geofeedia was not only being used by social media sites to help police spy on activists of color was disturbing enough,". "But then to find out this third-party vendor is also helping to police public school students is beyond disturbing, it's a terrifying bypass of the most basic rights of some of the most vulnerable, and most dissident, voices in the country: activists of colour and students," executive director of the Center for Media Justice Malkia Cyril said.

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