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As US schools rush into facial recognition, parents and students remain concerned

Categories Biometrics News  |  Facial Recognition  |  Schools
As US schools rush into facial recognition, parents and students remain concerned

More than half of students and parents in the U.S. are concerned about using cameras with facial recognition to check people entering a school building, according to a new survey published this week by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT).

Despite these results, the Washington, D.C.-headquartered non-profit organization says that the technology is being deployed in a growing number of K-12 schools. While 55 percent of students and 58 percent of parents have expressed worry over facial recognition, 33 percent of teachers say their school or school district is using it.

These numbers point to a wider trend of schools employing potentially harmful technology to ensure student safety despite high levels of concern from parents and students, CTD explains.

The research examined attitudes toward safety tools geared toward K-12 schools, including behavior analysis and prediction, students’ social media account monitoring and gunshot detection systems. These technologies are being deployed in response to mass shootings, increased student mental health crises and other threats to staff and students.

Aside from facial recognition systems, students and parents also expressed concern about AI cameras that notice unusual or irregular physical movements (56 and 60 percent respectively) as well as technology that tracks students’ location through digital “hall passes,” phones and school-provided devices like laptops (74 and 71 percent respectively).

The survey is an extension of a report on new ed-tech tools such as content filtering and blocking, student activity monitoring and generative AI, published in September. The civil rights group also formulated a set of recommendations on the responsible use of high-stakes school safety technology.

“Innovation, privacy, and equity considerations can and should go together when deciding to adopt new school safety technology tools, especially for more extreme, high-stakes safety uses,” the report states. “Classrooms are a space for children to learn and grow, without having to think of personal safety, threats to their wellbeing, and invasive data practices.”

In October, executives with the Center for Democracy & Technology formed the AI Governance Lab, focused on ameliorating risks and harms from AI algorithms.

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