Facial recognition technology is dangerous, and it has no place in U.S. schools for the foreseeable future.

Says Evan Selinger, a Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology and a Senior Fellow at The Future of Privacy Forum, about the current state of facial recognition technology:

Imagine a technology that is potently, uniquely dangerous — something so inherently toxic that it deserves to be completely rejected, banned, and stigmatized. Something so pernicious that regulation cannot adequately protect citizens from its effects.

That technology is already here. It is facial recognition technology, and its dangers are so great that it must be rejected entirely.

Thankfully, the ACLU has been at the forefront of the resistance. When the Magnolia School District (Arkansas) announced plans earlier this year to spend nearly $300k on a facial recognition system, the Arkansas ACLU quickly condemned the move. More recently, the Lockport City School District (NY) announced plans to spend $1.4 million to install a facial recognition surveillance system in its schools, paid for in part with state money offered under the Smart Schools Bond Act. (This Act was hailed by edtech advocates at the time of its passage as heralding ‘digital age learning’ ‘ so students can graduate with the skills they need to thrive in the economies of today and tomorrow’.) And now the NYCLU has responded:



The NYCLU’s statement (“Facial Recognition Cameras Do No Belong in Schools“) can be found here: https://www.nyclu.org/en/news/facial-recognition-cameras-do-not-belong-schools. And, here is the letter they sent to Commissioner MaryEllen Elia (the state chief school officer in New York) asking for the state to intervene in the district’s plans:

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Cory Doctorow’s novel, Little Brother, was intended as an act of science fiction, not a prediction. Other countries – like China and the UK – are already moving down the path of facial recognition in schools. In the U.S., we would do well to follow a different path.


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