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Listening Devices Are Being Installed In UK School Bathrooms

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As part of an attempt to curb vaping, bullying, and unruly behavior in school restrooms, some educational institutions in the UK are turning to new technology — sensors capable of snooping on student conversations and detecting certain keywords in speech.

However, these measures are creating a significant rift in the debate over privacy rights.

These remote, digital sensors that look like smoke detectors, can be programmed to recognize select words through machine learning algorithms. Upon hearing these, they send alerts to specific members of the school staff. They are being marketed by companies such as Triton and Emergency Protection, both of which suggest these sensors can be used not only to monitor students but also to oversee staff incidents such as bullying among colleagues.

However, privacy advocates are pushing back. Madeleine Stone, a senior advocacy officer for Big Brother Watch, voiced her concerns by stating “secretly monitoring school bathrooms is a gross violation of children’s privacy and would make pupils and parents deeply uncomfortable,” continuing to highlight the unlikelihood of such surveillance being lawful and posing a clear risk to student safety.

In response to the privacy concerns, Triton defends their 3D Sense Pro Sensor, stating its aim is not to intrude on daily conversations, but to provide additional security against threats like bullying or sexual assault in these spaces.

The sensor, which has preloaded keywords, allows schools to add an additional 10 custom keywords.

These controversial sensors have been installed in several British schools.

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