ACT News

Save
Print

Spy body president spruiks spy software to protect vulnerable children

The president of one of Australia's peak spy bodies has called for the use of software in primary schools and high schools that logs keyboard use and captures screen shots of personal devices.

Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers Dr Philip Kowalick showed the software to a police technology forum in Canberra on Wednesday.

He couldn't name it for commercial reasons, but said it had helped alert teachers and authorities in the United Kingdom to potential suicides, child grooming, bullying, domestic violence and radicalisation.

The software has been considered by some private schools in Australia.

The software is installed on a student's device, including smartphones or desktop computers, logging all keystrokes and also taking screen shots.

The program can take screen shots off devices interacting with the student's.

Advertisement

Teachers, principals or even police set a library of terms and phrases which set off alerts and can be triggered by the frequency of their use.

"We're talking about technology that helps institutions protect vulnerable people by actively monitoring," Mr Kowalick said.

Mr Kowalick said the programs had been trialled in Birmingham, UK,  and were legally admissible as students and parents had agreed to their installation.

"And these things still come up," Mr Kowalick said.

The trial monitored more than 10,000 pupils in the area following an appeal by the Birmingham local authority.

The technology works within a school's wifi network but would return any data from when the device was outside the network.

It would alert authorities if efforts were made to uninstall the program and it would automatically reinstall itself when reconnected to the school's wifi.

One example mentioned was one young person who had been using terms associated with suicide, making frequent references to self harm or disappearing.

Another identified a student who was a victim to gang violence, capturing a series of lengthy communications identifying clear cases of harassment.

In all the cases Mr Kowalick provided, including a conspiracy between 12 school girls to leave for Syria, authorities were able to intervene.

Mr Kowalick said it should also be installed on the devices of teachers and carers at the schools.

He also said it was important to identify key risks, apply human judgement and take appropriate action.

"I have spoken to a number of government agencies and attorney generals departments and there is interest in the product," Mr Kowalick said.

"We're talking about technology that helps institutions protect vulnerable people."