Policy

When Classroom Management Software Monitors Students for ‘Extremist’ Activities

Jul 28, 2015

NO RADICALS ALLOWED: "YODO" may seem like an innocuous typo but not to Impero, a UK company behind a suite of tools that monitors students for unsavory online activities—including terrorism and “extremist” activities. The Guardian examines the growing industry for “anti-radicalization” software, which comes in response to a UK law that holds schools responsible “to prevent pupils being drawn into terrorism.” Words that will flag Impero’s system, in use in 16 UK schools and 4 in the US, include “YODO,” “jihobbyist” and “storm front.”

Privacy advocates and the Muslim community are justifiably outraged at these measures. More concerns were highlighted in this report from Forbes on how one researcher found a glaring security gaffe: Impero was using “password” as the default password to connect clients to servers. The company says it has patched up the problem—but not without making a legal fuss around how the benevolent hacker exposed the flaw. Even still, systems like Impero remain vulnerable, writes Forbes' Thomas Fox-Brewster: 

Technology that helps teachers monitor your children could be used by anyone, anywhere, to do the same. As schools increase surveillance, expect more avenues for outsiders to find a way onto their networks.

Policy

When Classroom Management Software Monitors Students for ‘Extremist’ Activities

Jul 28, 2015

NO RADICALS ALLOWED: "YODO" may seem like an innocuous typo but not to Impero, a UK company behind a suite of tools that monitors students for unsavory online activities—including terrorism and “extremist” activities. The Guardian examines the growing industry for “anti-radicalization” software, which comes in response to a UK law that holds schools responsible “to prevent pupils being drawn into terrorism.” Words that will flag Impero’s system, in use in 16 UK schools and 4 in the US, include “YODO,” “jihobbyist” and “storm front.”

Privacy advocates and the Muslim community are justifiably outraged at these measures. More concerns were highlighted in this report from Forbes on how one researcher found a glaring security gaffe: Impero was using “password” as the default password to connect clients to servers. The company says it has patched up the problem—but not without making a legal fuss around how the benevolent hacker exposed the flaw. Even still, systems like Impero remain vulnerable, writes Forbes' Thomas Fox-Brewster: 

Technology that helps teachers monitor your children could be used by anyone, anywhere, to do the same. As schools increase surveillance, expect more avenues for outsiders to find a way onto their networks.

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