California university drops face recognition plan
21 February 2020 15:47 GMT

UCLA has dropped plans to use facial recognition for the surveillance of the campus. 

Ahead of a national day of action led by digital rights group Fight for the Future, UCLA has abandoned its plans to become the first university in the United States to adopt facial recognition technology.

From a report:In a statement shared with Fight for the Future's Deputy Director Evan Greer, UCLA's Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck said the university "determined that the potential benefits are limited and are vastly outweighed by the concerns of the campus community." Since last year, UCLA has been considering using the university's security cameras to implement a facial recognition surveillance system.

These plans have been dogged by student criticism, culminating in an editorial in the Daily Bruin, UCLA's student newspaper, that argued the system would "present a major breach of students' privacy" while creating "a more hostile campus environment" by "collecting invasive amounts of data on [UCLA's] population of over 45,000 students and 50,000 employees." In an attempt to highlight the risks of using facial recognition on UCLA's campus, Fight for the Future used Amazon's facial recognition software, Rekognition, to scan public photos of UCLA's athletes and faculty, then compare the photos to a mugshot database. Over 400 photos were scanned, 58 of which were false positives for mugshot images -- the software often gave back matches with "100% confidence" for individuals "who had almost nothing in common beyond their race"

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