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UK Government Monitored The Social Media Activity of Education Critics

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

It has been brought to light that the UK’s Department for Education has been conducting social media surveillance on some of the nation’s foremost education specialists. The Guardian’s investigation has revealed that the DfE maintained records of social media activities for at least nine educators, with some documentation extending to 60 pages of scrutinised interactions.

Disturbingly, a person who wished to remain anonymous reported finding an Excel spreadsheet prepared by the authorities, outlining her social media connections and activity minutiae.

And it doesn’t end there. The DfE reportedly attempted to terminate a conference because two key speakers, Ruth Swailes and Aaron Bradbury, had previously expressed their disagreement with government policies. Bradbury, an acclaimed scholar specializing in early childhood studies, found the situation profoundly undemocratic.

This case raises many questions about the state of free speech in the United Kingdom. It becomes more worrying when bureaucrats start compiling dossiers simply because educators dare to express their democratic right to criticize or challenge government decisions. Does this not amount to an implicit form of censorship, designed to stifle dissent and control dialogue?

Adding to the chilling effect, a senior government officer was deployed to the said event to “monitor” Swailes and Bradbury’s speech. Swailes, understandably shaken by this experience, filed a subject access request and revealed that UK authorities indeed kept a file concerning her. In this dossier, it was shown that her criticism of Ofsted, the English schools inspectorate, was compiled and reviewed by officials.

Several other educational professionals, known for their logical and rational criticism of government initiatives, have followed suit and demanded disclosure of any related documents about them.

On discovering her extensive file, Dr. Pam Jarvis, an experienced educator, expressed her raging indignation at the government’s intrusive surveillance practice. This type of monitoring threatens the fundamental principles of democratic society, one of which is free speech. Instead of focusing on improving educational conditions and policies that directly influence the future generations, it seems the DfE has channeled its resources into compiling dossiers on its critics.

To elaborate, one linguistics expert, Carmel O’Hagan found a disparaging email from DfE officials accusing her of carrying “an axe to grind” on X. Dr. Ian Cushing, a lecturer, voiced his alarm over the unnecessary investment of time and money in surveillance activities amidst other pressing educational and economic hurdles.

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