A timeline of efforts to challenge unsafe and unethical practice and holding School Safety Tech to account for children’s privacy in educational settings and beyond

2015 (July) The Guardian article: “Security flaw found in school internet monitoring software” (Impero Software Solutions).

2016 (June)  Schools Week, opinion Mandatory web monitoring in schools opens a slippery can of worms

2016 (September) DDM response to the minimal mention of safetyTech in Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) Department for Education Consultation on
 revised Statutory Guidance

2016 (October) Managing Director, e-Safe Systems Limited told the Parliamentary Communications Committee, “Bearing in mind we are doing this throughout the year, the behaviours we detect are not confined to the school bell starting in the morning and ringing in the afternoon, clearly; it is 24/7 and it is every day of the year. Lots of our incidents are escalated through activity on evenings, weekends and school holidays.”

2018 Discussions at the Bett Show confirm to DDM for the first time that the retained content of a a child’s screen / activity is kept “a minute before and a minute after” an incident which has triggered the screen capture. A demo shows that because the recording is “a bit like CCTV on a rolling basis,” content is therefore possible to keep from the recording retrospectively, after something has been triggered. A common practice across the sector, these explanations are not public on company websites.

2018 (September) DDM includes safeguarding in schools overview and case studies (pages 29-32) in consultation response to the ICO on Age Appropriate Code of Practice

2018 (December) NetSupport complaint about Telegraph journalist’s article.

2019 (February) eSafe CEO interviewed in article: mentions “monitoring of online and offline digital activity within a school, even including words typed by pupils that are never saved as documents or sent as emails.” Profiling of patterns of behaviour, unforeseeable consequences, and that children must not know what the watchwords are.Internal research and report concluded, Web Monitoring Briefing (rev. 2021)

2019 (October) DDM case studies submitted to the ICO with supporting monitoring briefing and mapping of 15 companies’ intrusive monitoring functionality.

2020 (June) Smoothwall CEO joined DDM event for an open discussion and Q&A and talks about company retention of things children type but do not share and delete. A common practice across the sector.

2020 at an event, ‘Protecting student wellness with real time monitoring’ the CEO of Netsweeper and team talk about plans for a SIM card to ensure always on, wherever a child goes. “Educational Learning SIM card — available to schools and parents, to manage the mobile phone during school hours, solves the BYOD problem”. Operating through the help of Telecomms providers. To “expand this ecosystem” and remembering one of the reasons to offer these systems is that it is “exactly what businesses are going to want us to do” so when they get into the workforce….teach and enable these children, skills to transfer over to the workplace, to “keep workers on task,”  “engaged, dialled in” “being a productive worker in the workspace, in the future and now.”

2020 (August) ICO response received and case still under consideration. 

2021 (May) The Rise of SafetyTech blogpost on how the broad safetyTech industry and online safety legislative agenda fit together “making the market” for the industry.

2021 (June)  Smoothwall acquires eSafe

2021 (August) FamilyZone acquires Smoothwall

2022 (August) WIRED article: Kids are Back in Classrooms and Laptops are Still Spying on Them

2022 DDM response to the DfE consultation on Safeguarding in Schools (KCSiE) including our latest detail legal analysis.

2023 FamilyZone changes the safetytech brand lines to a new name, Qoria

2023 (July) CDT (U.S.A) Report – Beyond the Screen: Parents’ Experiences with Student Activity Monitoring in K-12 Schools

2024 (January) DDM writes to the ICO again re SafetyTech sector.

2024 Discussions at the January Bett Show 2024 confirm to DDM for the first time that staff at least three companies in the sector Smoothwall (Qoria), Impero, and Netsweeper have viewing and edit access to children’s screen content collected and retained as a result of monitoring and that the content could contain nudes or children’s other sensitive and or explicit and private content.