“When students in Biloxi, Miss., show up this morning for the first day of the new school year, a virtual army of digital cameras will be recording every minute of every lesson in every classroom.|Hundreds of Internet-wired video cameras will keep rolling all year long, in the hope that they’ll deter crime and general misbehavior among the district’s 6,300 students — and teachers.” Greg Toppo
—Who’s Watching the Class? Webcams in schools raise privacy issue (USA Today)
This article goes beyond the typical “privacy rights eroding” comments you’d expect to find, and even interviews a teacher who likes the cameras:
Page, a former biology teacher, granted open access to anyone who wanted to view his classroom, no password required. He says families tuned in regularly and loved it. ”You could see if the kid was wearing the same thing they left the house in that morning.”
I do think it’s very sad that we even have to consider turning schools into panopticons.
Jeremy Bentham, the British philosopher and social reformer, published his plan for the Panopticon penitentiary in 1791. Essentially, it was for a building on a semi-circular pattern with an ‘inspection lodge’ at the centre and cells around the perimeter. Prisoners, who in the original plan would be in individual cells, were open to the gaze of the guards, or ‘inspectors’, but the same was not true of the view the other way. By a carefully contrived system of lighting and the use of wooden blinds, officials would be invisible to the inmates. Control was to be maintained by the constant sense that prisoners were watched by unseen eyes…..
Beyond the metaphor, a model of power also lies in the concept of the panoptic, and it takes us well beyond the Orwellian jackboots and torture, or even the rats. The normalizing discipline, the exaggerated visibility of the subject, the unverifiability of observation, the subject as bearer of surveillance, the quest for factual certainty – all are important aspects of the panoptic as model of power. The question is, to what extent are all these necessarily present in each context? Sociologically, is electronic surveillance panoptic power?” (Lyon, “From Big Brother to Electronic Panopticon.”)