The After Surveillance collective is exploring ways of better understanding the landscape of surveillance and privacy across the higher education sector. We know about examples of good and bad (or perhaps ‘mixed’) practice in some institutions, companies and organisations, but we thought that a contribution this international group could make would be to find a way to gather more of this information in an organised and centralised place. With more data, new forms of analysis, research and activism might become possible.

We have identified some possible elements of the Higher Education Surveillance Observatory:

  • A crowdsourced database of things that are happening in different institutions, countries, systems. This might include troubling developments, successful strategies for resisting surveillance, examples of good institutional or community practice.
  • Forms/surveys that people can fill out to add information to the database.
  • Reports on trends or activities, successful interventions.
  • Data visualisations of key information from the database.
  • Resources to support local initiatives to gather and use information.

We hope to utilize the interactions here to learn useful things about:

  1. The extent to which higher education institutions have implemented different forms of surveillance.
  2. The extent to which higher education institutions have put in place guidelines / policies in this area (and mismatches in 1 and 2).
  3. The extent to which commercial companies (edtech and beyond, eg student record providers) are collecting student data.
  4. An understanding of where financial and other support for projects/work in this space is coming from.
  5. Examples of good practice. Collections of constructive responses to surveillance.

As of April 2022, this site is a working prototype as we iterate a space with these goals in mind.

Text above adapted from this post by Jen Ross, which provides more context on how this observatory has come about, and where it may go.