San Diego school district’s facial recognition pilot program sees backlash

Parents in the Encinitas Union School District have been expressing their concerns regarding a new pilot program that will implement biometric facial recognition software on school-issued iPads to simplify the login process for students, according to a report by 10 News.

The backlash comes after San Diego’s Encinitas Union School District recently announced it would introduce the facial recognition software, developed by Virtual Keyring.

Jennifer Hamler, one of the student’s parents, has launched a change.org petition protesting the pilot program, which is costing the district $63,000.

In the online petition, Hamler calls the program “a frivolous waste of money,” while other supporters called it an “invasion of privacy” and “wasteful.”

“We are constantly being asked to raise money for fundraising … yet they are spending $63,000 for a software program that scans our kids’ faces every 60 seconds,” said Hamler.

In an email to one parent, the district’s IT director explained that the facial recognition software provides “strong cyber security” for the iPads.

“A pilot of the single sign-on software will be implemented with a select number of students and staff,” EUSD superintendent Timothy Baird said in a statement. “Before the pilot is rolled-out, the parents and staff will be notified. This is a proof of concept pilot with the vendor.

“The vendor must show EUSD that the single sign-on process can work for our district students and staff. Funding for this project will be reimbursed by the vendor if the project does not pass the proof of concept pilot.”

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