Data ‘leak’ at campus event proves Prevent is about silencing speech and spying on students

2019-02-05T17:04:17+00:00 February 5th, 2019|Press Release, PREVENT|

London – CAGE is alarmed that attendees to an Islamophobia Awareness Month event at Kingston University had their data ‘leaked’ – in a serious breach of data protection –  to PREVENT.

Students have long campaigned against PREVENT and the subsequent securitisation of campuses, which has stifled students’ ability to organise on their campuses.

Conditions imposed on event organisers – including swipecard access, and pre-registration – result in precisely the “chilling effect” academics and professionals have warned about since PREVENT was made a statutory duty. Such actions breach the privacy rights of students and underline the dangers of university bodies acting as surveillance agents of the state.

The news of this data ‘breach’ comes as yet another guidance on ‘free speech’ has been issued to universities. It is to be regretted that the guidance merely reinforces the limited ability of students to protest beyond what narrow parameters determined by the state, whilst rendering anything beyond that as worthy of sanction.

Moazzam Begg CAGE Outreach Director said:

“I was invited to speak at Kingston University in 2016 by the then Vice Chancellor. He believed he was upholding free speech on campus. It is disturbing that information about students who registered to attend a subsequent event at the same University was leaked to PREVENT. Foreshadowing this revelation, during the later event, a previous speaker actually questioned the motive behind the student list. Now it is clear that it was, in effect, to spy on their students.”

“Kingston, and universities everywhere, should stand against the encroachment of surveillance in their institutions, and oppose PREVENT, which is at the centre of this trend. We demand that the university publicise the steps they will take to stop further ‘leaks’ of personal data of students, as well as the results of the investigation into the current breach, so that individuals can be held to account.”

 

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)