A live streaming mobile app which monitors students in classrooms has aroused an online controversy over students' privacy.
A live streaming mobile app which monitors students in classrooms has aroused an online controversy over students' privacy. The video stream can be viewed by all those who have downloaded the app, according to a report published on Friday by The Paper.
It was reported earlier this week that any user could view students' classes at a middle school or even pupils' dorms at a kindergarten through the live streaming app, Shuidi. Broadcast, however, is only available if the broadcasters have equipped classrooms or dorms with a smart camera manufactured by the company 360, an internet security group headquartered in Beijing.
More than 200 live streams on the app have been found to be streaming video of classrooms, sports fields and student dorms, with one stream earning as many as 40,000 views. Viewers can reward hosts for more interactions as found in other similar apps.
Some parents have praised the app for giving them the ability to monitor their children, while others, alongside Chinese netizens, expressed opposition to the so-called service, claiming it was a security and privacy threat as the lives of these children was transmitted to the public.
"Unsafe, totally. Children's privacy has been disclosed, everyone can see them when they take off their clothes for a nap at noon," a parent whose child is studying at a kindergarten in Henan Province said, while also affirming that any parent should not consent to the live streaming.
"What is the difference between such kind of live streaming and being in jail?" asked @Xiechang, a Weibo user.
"A perfect integration of advanced technology and regressing civilization," ironically commented @Pusi.
According to The Paper, some parents suggested that schools were responsible for installing the smart cameras. However, one teacher from Shunwen Middle School in Jinan, Shandong Province, claimed that cameras were universally installed by the education department and she did not know they were broadcasting a live stream.
"This camera was universally installed by the education department. I thought it was just open to teachers," a teacher from a middle school in Jinan, Shandong Province told The Paper, while also expressing astonishment when noticing the classes had been open to all users on the app.
Xiong Bingqi, Vice President of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, a non-governmental organization in education, explained that if a class is live, it is called online education; but if a classroom or even a dorm is live 24/7, it is rather inappropriate.
Zhou Ming, a lawyer from Shanghai Mingting Law Firm, stated that such kind of live streaming has violated personal privacy and threatened data security and personal safety.
Having faced criticism over the live streaming, Shuidi responded to the public on Thursday via its official account on Weibo, clarifying that the live stream is a feature of the smart camera. Shuidi added that schools can turn on "the kindergarten mode", which allows the live stream to only be available to parents and teachers.