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Facial recognition planned for UK schools without Biometrics Commissioner consultation

Sampson said he ‘found out by accident’ about the plans
Categories Biometrics News  |  Facial Recognition  |  Schools
Facial recognition planned for UK schools without Biometrics Commissioner consultation

UK Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Fraser Sampson says he was not consulted over plans drafted by the Department for Education (DfE) to deploy facial recognition cameras to scan pupils’ biometrics at schools across the country.

Speaking with The Daily Mail over the weekend, Sampson confirmed he recently found out “completely by accident” about the DfE drafted plans, which would have seen almost 70 schools already signing up for the biometric surveillance system.

Following the conversation with the DfE, Sampson said he eventually saw the plans, which according to the Biometrics Commissioner would have “benefited from some earlier sharing”.

This is not the first time Sampson warns against the dangers of mass surveillance. Since his appointment in March 2021, the Biometrics Commissioner has been actively campaigning to make sure that these technologies are deployed lawfully and with safeguards to protect individuals’ privacy.

“Where is the lawful purpose of introducing this clearly intrusive type of technology into a school?” he said in regards to the recent DfE plans.

“How does any of this fit with much wider government obligations on the UN convention on the rights of the child not to be subject to close scrutiny and have the freedom to sit in a classroom without being watched, let alone recorded?”

Last January, Sampson also spoke to Facewatch about ethical practice and its importance for retaining trust in the technology in relation to UK grocer Southern Co-op expanding its use of live facial recognition (LFR) to new stores.

More recently, the Biometrics Commissioner gave a keynote speech at the NPCC CCTV Conference, where he reflected upon his first year in office, including data protection, CCTV policies and practices, and “Xinjiang Surveillance,” among other things.

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