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Schools Cause Furor By Installing Bathroom Cameras — Is It Fair?

Daniel Berehulak, Getty Images

Teenagers attending hundreds of schools across Britain are now being watched by Big Brother every time they use the toilet.

A new report finds that surveillance cameras have been installed in student bathrooms.

According to privacy advocates Big Brother Watch, freedom of information inquiries sent to more than 4,100 schools have uncovered some 207 high schools in England, Wales and Scotland that have installed security cameras in their school bathrooms and locker rooms.

Privacy activists say they are not sure if the student population is being protected, while school officials contend the cameras are there to protect student well-being.

Lesley Bowes, principal of the King Ecgbert School, says video footage is only looked at if there is reason to believe that acts of misconduct have occurred. She says surveillance efforts monitor the common area of the restroom and do not invade on any of the student’s private business.

However, the Information Commissioner’s Office says that surveillance of public toilets and changing areas is perfectly legal, making it lawful for schools to monitor student’s private functions if they so choose.

Fortunately, those rules do not apply to the United States where cameras are prohibited from bathrooms, locker rooms, and other places where there might be a  “reasonable expectation of privacy,” according to the Justice Department.

So, if schools are only viewing video footage when suspected wrongdoings have taken place, and they are not encompassing the full spectrum of their surveillance capabilities to crack down on suspicious activities as they occur, then why even have cameras?

School officials say that while violent crime is commonplace among high schools in Britain, the cameras are not being used to catch these types of issues, but more like the typical teenage offenses like smoking, bullying and fighting.

[ABC News]

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