Toilet sensors ‘actively listen’ to UK school pupils

Occurred: February 2024

Schools in the UK have been accused of covertly monitoring students in toilets in an attempt to curb vaping, bullying, and unruly behaviour, without their parents' permission.

According to SchoolsWeek, schools have been using products such as Triton's 3D Pro Sensor to actively detect vape smells and anomolous noises using sensors, as well as certain keywords through machine learning algorithms, which trigger alerts to selected staff members. 

The report cited the head teacher at Baxter College, Kidderminster, acknowledging that parental permission had not been obtained, though parents were very positive' about the school's attempts to crack down on vaping, she said.

The finding triggered complaints by privacy advocates. Madeleine Stone, a senior advocacy officer for UK digital rights pressure group Big Brother Watch, voiced her concerns by stating 'secretly monitoring school bathrooms is a gross violation of children’s privacy and would make pupils and parents deeply uncomfortable.'

Operator: Baxter College, Kidderminster
Developer: Triton
Country: UK
Sector: Education
Purpose: Detect vaping; Increase safety
Technology: Machine learning; Keyword detection
Issue: Privacy; Surveillance
Transparency: Marketing

Research, advocacy 🧮