A new mobile phone service for kids, Bipper, has just been released in Norway, and one of the features, the possibility of localising your kid, is raising some debate. According to Bipper’s founder Silje Vallestad, this is only an extra feature that you can turn off, but it still raises important questions.

After reading Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother I went in search of more ways in which kids today are under surveillance. Schools are major culprits. My daughter was horrified when I told her the many ways in which teachers can see what she’s up to through It’s Learning, the LMS that all kids in Bergen use. This video about the use of technology in a US school is chilling in the normality of the assitant principal showing the reporter how he can see each student’s screen, and how the webcam is often on. This year, a Philadelphia high school accused a student of having drugs – in his bedroom – based on webcam images snapped in his home on his school-issued laptop. And yes, even in Norway, schools run outrageous spyware on student laptops.

I already wrote about this on the blog (and posted a comment to the Origo discussion of Blipper) but it’s such an important issue. And seriously, isn’t this constant surveillance in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children?

13. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.

16. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

Or has our society changed so much since the convention was written that we now think surveillance is just fine?

7 thoughts on “surveillance of kids – again

  1. Protego Security

    jill/txt » surveillance of kids – again http://bit.ly/dwXMTq

  2. William Patrick Wend

    Jill, a lot of people here in the states are also very concerned about this kind of surveillance of children. Unfortunately, those in favor will often pull out the WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?! or IF IT WAS YOUR KID YOU’D WANT THEM FOUND cards to defuse any debate. Any number of police procedural shows (CSI, the horribly sensationalist Law & Order SVU, etc) also push tracking systems (many that don’t even really exist in real life…which also leads to juries demanding more evidence than can really be presented).

    I strongly agree with you that it is a matter of human rights. Children should not be subjected to constant supervision and nannying. Governments who do that want a group of citizens incapable of making poor choices (heaven forbid!!!!) or doing things outside of the pre-established box they decide.

  3. Barbara Barbosa Neves

    I couldn’t agree more! And the “human rights of children” point is spot on. Thanks for articulating it so clearly.

    A propos, the recent online harassment of a 11 years-old girl by 4chan members (http://gawker.com/5589103/how-the-internet-beat-up-an-11+year+old-girl?skyline=true&s=i) seemed to feed more the “surveillance” argument, than education and a balanced parental guidance.

  4. Nathan Clark

    surveillance ~= prison: http://bit.ly/aiw98z routine surveillance of children: http://bit.ly/advqRW @bldgblog @jilltxt

  5. raven1962

    Bipper has just been released in Norway. The possibility of localising your kid is raising some debate. http://jilltxt.net/?p=2488

  6. Trond K. Pettersen

    jill/txt – surveillance of kids – again http://bit.ly/cZQM7a

  7. Ida Aalens links

    surveillance of kids – again http://bit.ly/aVjzKg

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