A major California university has dropped plans to use facial recognition for the surveillance of the campus.
The idea was to have the University of California Los Angeles use facial recognition as a way to gain access to buildings, to prove authenticity and deny entry to people with restricted access to the campus, matching their faces against a database.
Fight for the Future, an advocacy group, had tested UCLA’s facial recognition software and found that “dozens” of student-athletes and professors were incorrectly matched with photos from a mugshot database, “and the overwhelming majority of those misidentified were people of color.”
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In a letter posted on the group’s Medium post, UCLA vice-chancellor Michael Beck says the school determined that the potential benefits of facial recognition “are limited and are vastly outweighed by the concerns of the campus community.”
Students were mobilizing and making their voices heard. At a public meeting to discuss the proposed system in January, student Madeleine Flores told the UCLA newspaper the Daily Bruin, “I don’t want (my family) to have the fear of having their face scanned because a lot of my family are already scared walking on the streets. Having (their information) put into a system, it make that fear raised a thousand percent.”
And in a blistering editorial in the Bruin, editors said the implementation of the technology “would present a major breach of students’ privacy and make students feel unsafe on a campus they are supposed to call home.” It is one thing to monitor campus activity with security cameras, the paper said, “but it’s another entirely to automatically identify individuals and track their every move on campus.”
Fight for the Future says that some 40 plus students and activists are planning a national day of action of March 2 to keep facial recognition off college campuses.
We reached out to UCLA for comment.
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