Surveillance Software at Schools

Simon Hooper reports in Aljazeera.com: ‘School children in the UK who search for words such as “caliphate” and the names of Muslim political activists on classroom computers risk being flagged as potential supporters of terrorism by monitoring software being marketed to teachers to help them spot students at risk of radicalisation. The “radicalisation keywords” library has been developed by the software company Impero as an add-on to its existing Education Pro digital classroom management tool to help schools comply with new duties requiring them to monitor children for “extremism”, as part of the government’s Prevent counterterrorism strategy. According to Impero about 40 percent of schools in the UK already use Education Pro, although a pilot version of the radicalisation library has so far only been rolled out in a few schools…

One political activist told Al Jazeera he was shocked to discover he was listed as an “extremist individual” after his name was featured in a presentation about the software during last week’s Impero event. “What is it that I and other Muslim speakers say that constitutes extremism?” said Raza Nadim, a spokesman for the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (MPACUK), a civil liberties organisation that encourages Muslims to become more active in public life…

Sally-Ann Griffiths, Impero’s e-safety development manager, said the keywords library had been compiled in response to requests from teachers for technological tools to help them fulfil their Prevent duties. Impero also offers keywords libraries for topics such as eating disorders, bullying and grooming… Griffiths said Quilliam had been a “safe choice” of a partner because of its role in shaping the government’s counter-extremism strategy.