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Sweden condemns surveillance in schools

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Sweden condemns surveillance in schools
12:10 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Data Inspection Board (Datainspektionen – DI) has demanded that seven schools change their use of surveillance cameras in a decision it hopes will set a precedent for schools across the country.

The ruling follows an investigation by the Board revealed that seven different school were currently deploying surveillance cameras in a way which violated Swedish regulations governing the use of the cameras.

The decision sets a precedent which applies to all of Sweden's schools, writes Data Inspection Board head Göran Gräslund in an article in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

The seven school singled out by the Data Inspection Board include high schools in the Stockholm suburbs of Bromma, Tensta, Tumba, Kista, and Järfälla.

Two Malmö-area high schools, Frans Suell and Jörgen Kock, were also included in the investigation.

Six of the schools were told they could no longer use any of their surveillance cameras when school is in session on the weekdays.

But Tensta high school, which today has 60 surveillance cameras in place, will be allowed to keep one camera in operation during school hours.

Due to previous problems with the theft of computer equipment at the school, Tensta high school has been granted permission to keep one camera near the computer equipment storage area.

In the article, Gräslund writes that the Board's decision is “a wake-up call for all schools in Sweden which use or are considering using surveillance cameras indoors during the day” and claims that there is widespread ignorance about rules governing surveillance, which occurs regularly and is often an invasion of privacy.

“The personal information laws contain rules which address the use of surveillance cameras indoors,” writes Gräslund.

He worries that schools' surveillance methods are close to reaching levels which would cause people in other work places to “react quite negatively”.

The school's ever expanding surveillance is causing both students and school personnel to become more numb to the practice, which worries Gräslund.

“Young people learn early on to accept being watched,” he writes.

He encourages schools to search for other, less intrusive methods to combat problems of theft, violence, and vandalism.

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