More than 20 human rights organizations have called on the University of Miami to ban facial recognition, after students accused the school of using the technology to identify student protesters, which the university has denied.
In a letter to the university’s Board of Trustees, the ACLU of Florida along with 21 other groups asked the university to hold an open forum with students to clarify how it identified student protesters.
The university denied it used facial recognition to identify a handful of students who attended an on-campus demonstration in September, saying they were instead identified using surveillance footage and “basic investigative techniques.”
Though campus police chief David Rivero told Forbes he believes facial recognition “doesn’t work,” he admitted campus police have used facial recognition software from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement during criminal investigations.
Digital rights non-profit Fight for the Future called for a ban and “clearly stated policy” on the issue in the face of “conflicting answers” from the university.
The students identified weren’t punished, but they still felt their privacy was violated.
“UMiami is struggling to answer to their creepy surveillance practices, and clarify whether they are using their own facial recognition system, or Florida’s state facial recognition database,” said Lia Holland, an organizer at Fight for the Future.
More than 60 universities, including UCLA, MIT and Harvard, have already committed to banning facial recognition. Critics say the technology isn’t reliable and could potentially be abused, while others argue it can make campuses safer and offer conveniences, such as scanning your face to enter dorms or pay for food. Studies show facial recognition algorithms have a tougher time identifying people with darker skin.
The University of Southern California is one of the only schools openly acknowledging the use of facial recognition. Students use the technology to gain access to their rooms, an effort to stop uninvited intruders from entering dorms.
Students Accuse The University Of Miami Of Using Facial Recognition To Identify Student Protesters. The University Denies It. (Forbes)