STUDENTS ARE FACING FACIAL RECOGNITION WATCHLISTS IN TEXAS SCHOOLS | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

STUDENTS ARE FACING FACIAL RECOGNITION WATCHLISTS IN TEXAS SCHOOLS

After a mass shooting in 2018, the Santa Fe Independent School District in Texas decided to try facial recognition as an added layer of security.

While the reason for installing the system was reactive, it is hard to ignore the privacy concerns, and the fact that facial recognition is not reliably accurate in identifying people.

The Markup obtained documents detailing how the facial recognition system the school district installed works. In the test run, back in 2019, more than 5,000 student photos were uploaded to the system, and the results, according to the tech company, were impressive.

“Overall, we had over 164,000 detections the last 7 days running the pilot. We were able to detect students on multiple cameras and even detected one student 1100 times!” Taylor May, then a regional sales manager for AnyVision, said in an email to the school’s administrators. To the tech company, the numbers are impressive, but to people concerned about their privacy, the number is concerning, as it gives a clearer picture of the extent to which facial rec technology means the end to anonymity.

Among the documents The Markup obtained was the 2019 user guide of the software, called “Better Tomorrow.” The software is touted as a watchlist-based facial rec system, meaning it only detects people who it has been told to identify (faces that have been put on a watchlist).

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