Army wades into charged territory – biometric surveillance of children

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The U.S. Army is readying a demonstration project that would turn facial recognition surveillance systems on children.

Its Engineer R&D Center is investigating how off-the-shelf hardware and software can be used to monitor the health and well-being of children. The Army has set aside $30 million to pay a contractor to demonstrate a biometrics and image analysis set up.

Specifically, the center wants a vendor to graft its surveillance and analysis software onto the hardware in place at Fort Jackson’s Scales Avenue Child Development Center, in Columbia, S.C. A call for proposals is expected to be published December 4.

It is unclear exactly what government officials will do with the systems or what they are expected to witness. Also unknown is how surveillance-derived information will be used.

All the Army says right now is that using facial recognition systems in child development centers could “improve service member and family quality of life, reduce base costs and enhance mission readiness.”

Training AI systems on school children in the civilian world is a controversial subject. Recent research suggests that surveilling students could ” ‘weaponize’ racism, normalize surveillance and erode privacy.”

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