Florida Schools Store Security Footage of Children for ‘Safety Portal’
Last October, an op-ed in the Washington Post dispelled the myth that school shootings are frequent. The media drives this fear-mongering narrative down the American public’s throats. Now, predictably, this is bearing consequences for our children’s privacy. The Florida Department of Education has announced what’s called a safety portal program.
The program acts as a data repository and data analytics resource to help predict the next school shooter.
The program is a result of a Gov. Ron DeSantis executive order. It’s also another shining example of a reactionary governance environment. DeSantis signed the executive order following the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The Florida Schools Safety Portal, as it is known officially, collects our children’s data to ‘keep them safe’ from the rare event of an active school shooter. Again, see the Washington Post article above to understand the depth of rarity in school shooting events.
Should you care?
In a day and age that finds social media companies egregiously collecting kid’s data, it’s surprising that Florida’s safety portal program hasn’t incurred more public criticism. Remember, if you have an Amazon Echo, it’s probably storing data specific to your child.
Researchers, however, are sounding the alarm bells over the new way to surveil the public through our kids.
There is no evidence that collecting more data on our kids will help keep them safe. Instead, it exposes them to increased risks. Imagine the criminal potential for hacking a 7-year-old’s personal information. If Florida’s safety portal continues, this means those children will be surveilled until they are 18.
Again, all of this falls squarely back on the flawed idea that if we let the government spy on us, we’re safer. Just look at the official political rhetoric.
“In February, I issued an executive order to ensure the safety of children in our schools and the Florida Schools Safety Portal is one of several steps my administration has taken to further this collaborative effort,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We must dedicate the attention and resources necessary to protect our students, teachers and school personnel. Access to timely, more accurate information will allow our law enforcement and threat assessment teams to respond and intercept possible threats, while also ensuring students in need of professional help get the necessary support.”
“Children, teachers and staff deserve to feel safe while they are at school,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “As the new school year begins, I am thankful we are identifying ways to intervene and get our kids meaningful help to hopefully prevent a tragic event.”
The safety portal says that only “respective source agencies” will gain access to all this data. So, the CDC? It also states that users can’t download the information.
That’s the best they can do to ensure that our children’s personal data remains safely stored?
Florida Schools Safety Portal: What’s Stored?
The worst part about this safety portal is the data that’s being collected. In this case, it’s video footage, grades, teacher discussions, and all disciplinary records.
Worse more, the program leverages social media, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Department of Juvenile Justice, Baker Act admissions, and local law enforcement to compile data on Florida kids.
So to answer our header question, everything is stored. This safety portal leaves no stone unturned.
Researchers React Harshly
Of course, there are some out there who have noted the risks the safety portal uniquely creates for our children. In an interview with CNBC, tech policy fellow with the Aspen Institute’s Ora Tanner called shenanigans on the program.
“It’s a common misconception that the more data we have, the more we know,” said Tanner, a physicist by training who previously served as a science teacher and elementary school teacher in the Florida school system.
She told CNBC she will work on further research on how the law is applied. “There’s a massive amount of data going into this database, but they still haven’t been transparent about what algorithm they are using. Using administrative data to predict future behavior, it’s not evidence-based.”
I’ll restate: school shootings are a rare occurrence. The media drives a false narrative that we should all be afraid to send our kids to school. Should we stand by idly, we’ll eventually enter a full-on surveillance state of affairs. All based on lies.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
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