China: surveillance tech is extending from the classroom to kids’ summer holidays

Why don’t they just raise robots instead of humans?

Civil society is weak in China, preventing checks and balances as this technology develops. Surveillance technology has even extended to other non-political sectors, and facial recognition is now being used in the private sector for commercial payments.

Surveillance technology has also appeared in the education sector. Some have raised concerns over the infringement on children's privacy. While China’s Personal Information Protection Law requires guardians approval when collecting of minors’ personal information, this often gets ignored.

Recently the usage of smart pens in monitoring students’ summer holiday performance has sparked criticism. 

On July 27, 2022, a student from Hainan province shared on a popular social media site, Xiao Hong Shu,  that her teacher had distributed the LePen (點陣筆) smart pen to students in her class and required them to use it for all their summer holiday homework.

The camera in the smart pen records whatever had been written on their homework and notifies the teacher. The teacher will know exactly when and how long the students have spent on each question.

In her social media post, the student complained that her summer holiday was ruined as she had to study regularly and could not finish her assignments on the last day of the summer holiday. 

The post immediately went viral on social media.

As a result of the zero-COVID restrictions, many schools have replaced face-to-face instructions with virtual classrooms. Hence, surveillance technology has also been exported from conventional classrooms to virtual classrooms as well as the students’ homes. The application of the smart pen is part of the emerging strategy to cater to this new setup — it ensures that students are taking notes and doing their classwork at home during the virtual classes. 


Kids, parents and teachers are all trapped in an invisible jail in the digital era.


This is so terrifying; those who have the resources should take their kids with them and escape the country.

This is like boiling frogs in warm water. The next would be to install surveillance cameras on uniforms and glasses. So that teachers can keep track of the whereabouts of students and what exactly they read or watch after school.  


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