USA - Students’ Phones Become Surveillance Machines

Arno Froese

Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health.

But some professors and education advocates argue that the systems represent a new low in intrusive technology, breaching students’ privacy on a massive scale. The tracking systems, they worry, will infantilize students in the very place where they’re expected to grow into adults, further training them to see surveillance as a normal part of living, whether they like it or not.

This style of surveillance has become just another fact of life for many Americans. A flood of cameras, sensors and microphones, wired to an online backbone, now can measure people’s activity and whereabouts with striking precision, reducing the mess of everyday living into trend lines that companies promise to help optimize.

But the perils of increasingly intimate supervision—and the subtle way it can mold how people act—have also led some to worry whether anyone will truly know when all this surveillance has gone too far. “Graduates will be well prepared … to embrace 24/7 government tracking and social credit systems,” one commenter on the Slashdot message board said.

The dream of some administrators is a university where every student is a model student, adhering to disciplined patterns of behavior that are intimately quantified, surveilled and analyzed.

Students disagree on whether the campus-tracking systems are a breach of privacy, and some argue they have nothing to hide. But one feeling is almost universally shared, according to interviews with more than a dozen students and faculty members: that the technology is becoming ubiquitous, and that the people being monitored—their peers, and themselves—can’t really do anything about it., 24 December 2019

Arno's commentary

Total control is in the works. The last sentence, “…can’t really do anything about it,” hits the nail on the head. Or, as it used to be said some decades ago, you can’t stop progress. Computer technology makes things possible that were unthinkable not too long ago. The present communication explosion is like a volcanic eruption, where mankind does not have power over it. True, a degree of privacy seems to be protected, as one may send an encrypted text message to anyone, anywhere, at any time. All electronic communication can be stored indefinitely; that’s another important factor.

While we agree that modern technology is very beneficial and helpful, increasing personal security, we cannot deny the fact that this is guided by a much higher power. What type of power is it? The Bible answer: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). These invisible powers, the rulers of darkness, have a specific aim; namely, to create a virtually peaceful, prosperous, and secure global society. That, however, can only happen when the Prince of Peace comes to Israel, and from there installs righteous government. Yet, the powers of darkness are very successful at imitating the real thing.

How are we to view this development? Positively, but with caution, for the apostle Paul warns, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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