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University of Missouri implements mandatory student tracking, claims it is for attendance purposes


'A student will have to participate in the recording of attendance'

iStock/Getty Images Plus/chombosan

The University of Missouri is raising serious privacy concerns over a new policy that mandates students install tracking software on their cellphones.

According to the Kansas City Star, the school is using "hidden technology" and a smartphone app to track students — all under the guise of ensuring students attend class.

The tracking, which the university said is for the good of students, will be mandatory for new students arriving on the Columbia, Missouri, campus beginning this spring. The tracking will even be enforced for students who do not have cellphones capable of using the technology.

"A student will have to participate in the recording of attendance," Jim Spain, the vice provost for undergraduate studies, told the Star.

"It's the way of leveraging technology to provide us with timely information," he said.

The app being used is called Spotter, which is billed as "an inclusive solution for helping [the] entire student body to succeed." Missouri athletics has already been using the app for four years in order to keep student-athletes in academic check.

Although the app is intended to track students academically, the location tracking services are not incapable of tracking students outside of the classroom, Campus Reform noted.

Sara Baker, policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, said the app is raising privacy concerns.

"We have deep privacy concerns about this," she told the Star, adding that she fears the app could be used for nefarious purposes, such as tracking student activists.

"Any time you use surveillance technology, the question always is who is watching the watcher," she said.

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