Bent over their computers in Salt Lake City, a dozen cyber sleuths scan the vast reaches of the Internet for contraband.
Only, they’re not hunting traffickers of drugs or sex.
The web patrol team works for Caveon, a test security company charged with protecting the integrity of new Common Core exams developed by the publishing giant Pearson. To that end, they’re monitoring social media for any leaks about test questions. News of the surveillance broke this week, sparking a firestorm. The American Federation of Teachers even circulated a petition demanding that Pearson “stop spying on our kids.”
But Pearson is hardly the only company keeping a watchful eye on students.
School districts and colleges across the nation are hiring private companies to monitor students’ online activity, down to individual keystrokes, to scan their emails for objectionable content and to scrutinize their public posts on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and other popular sites. The surveillance services will send principals text-message alerts if a student types a suspicious phrase or surfs to a web site that raises red flags.