American Universities Are Using Social Credit Systems To Track Students

China's social credit score system. Youtube
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An estimated 40 colleges and universities around the country are using a service called SpotterEDU that tracks student attendance through an app on their smartphones that was developed in 2015 by Rick Carter, a former college basketball coach. The app uses bluetooth beacons stuck on walls and ceilings that ping a student’s smartphone, and then records a students’ presence so advisers know when they are not in attendance. One student worried the technology would “keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day.” China’s social credit system micromanages its citizens and controls behavior through threats and punishment. 

A handful of U.S. colleges are employing a type of social credit system through various technologies designed to track students as they attend courses and walk across campus.

Universities across the country are using the so-called SpotterEDU app to connect with apps on students’ smartphones for the purpose of boosting their “attendance points.” The app also sees their absences and logs that information into a campus database that tracks them.

“They want those points,” Syracuse University Professor Jeff Rubin, who teaches Introduction to Information Technologies, told The Washington Post. “They know I’m watching and acting on it. So, behaviorally, they change.” He was referring to the app’s ability to socially engineer his students.

WaPo published a Dec. 24 report discussing the SpotterEDU app.

Not every student is on board with the app and its implications. (RELATED: Trump Admin Is Considering Using Amazon Echo And Apple Watch To Determine If Citizens Should Own A Gun)

“We’re adults. Do we really need to be tracked?” Robby Pfeifer, a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, told WaPo. “Why is this necessary? How does this benefit us? … And is it just going to keep progressing until we’re micromanaged every second of the day?”

Pfeifer’s campus recently began logging the attendance of students connected to the campus’s WiFi network, which empowers colleges to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than at any other time in American history.

SpotterEDU works with about 40 schools, including Central Florida, Missouri and Indiana, according to company chief, Rick Carter, a former college basketball coach. He developed the app in 2015 to watch over his athletes as they navigated their respective campuses.

The app uses bluetooth beacons, which installers stick on walls and ceilings, to ping a student’s smartphone, WaPo reported. The app then records a students’ presence so advisers know when they are not in attendance or have temporarily stepped out of the room for a break.

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