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Carnegie Mellon draft policy would allow biometric surveillance on campus

Carnegie Mellon draft policy would allow biometric surveillance on campus

Campus police would be allowed to use biometric surveillance on campus for criminal investigations under a new draft policy.

The proposal, obtained by PublicSource, is supposed to “detect, prevent and investigate crimes and threats to public safety.” Most efforts to create trust in biometric surveillance involve a good deal of openness, something students and privacy advocates will be watching for.

Access to captured data would be limited to university police and “those granted access by the police chief.”

After publication, the policy would require CMU’s chief information officer and university police department to hold annual meetings to discuss issues relating to implementation and enforcement.

At deadline, the proposal is not on CMU’s dedicated web page for policies under review or development.

The draft is sketchy on biometric technology and deployment plans. It does state, however, that CMU will not “capture audio through security cameras or video security systems or install them in places where there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

According to PublicSource, the draft policy would require the university to store video images “in a secure location” for “between 32 and 90 days, unless needed for legal reasons or other approved uses.”

“The Video Security Surveillance Policy is not finalized, as it is still in the drafting and internal review stage before it is made available for public comment,” CMU Media Relations Director Peter Kerwin wrote in response to questions from Biometric Update. “We have a process, which is currently underway, to ensure that members of the Carnegie Mellon University community have the opportunity to offer comments, suggestions, and questions for consideration prior to the policy being finalized.

“The University Police Department had not contemplated using facial recognition. If they ever did, it would be according to a final, adopted policy and applicable law,” Kerwin adds.

The publication also notes that Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Safety has had its use of facial recognition restricted by local legislation, but the restrictions do not apply to the state’s JNET system.

Deployment of biometric technologies in academic settings is gradually becoming more frequent around the world, driven by perceived threats to campus security.

In May, for instance, a Sri Lankan university deployed NtechLab facial recognition for security and attendance.

More recently, a survey from Oosto suggested 11 percent of respondents felt their child’s school is unsafe, and 60 percent would support new security steps including real-time video surveillance.

This post was updated at 4:34pm Eastern on July 8, 2022 to include responses from CMU.

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