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A Chinese University to Introduce Extensive Use of Facial Recognition Technology on Campus

Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine (NJUCM), a university located in Nanjing city in China’s Jiangsu province, announced that it will adopt a “pilot program” in the new semester of 2019 to install a facial recognition access control system at the school gate, the entrance to the student dormitory, the library, and the laboratory building. The school said that, by storing student and faculty information in a back-end database, students and faculty can swiftly pass the gate access control by “showing their faces.” which is more convenient and safer than the legacy system.

The surveillance cameras in the classroom, said the school, will automatically capture the student’s faces. In addition to helping improve the attendance rate, the system can also monitor the student’s class performance, including whether they are listening, how many times they look up (to the teacher), whether they are playing with their phone, and whether they doze off. NJUCM said that the intention is to remedy the situation of students skipping classes, being late, or leaving early. It will even eliminate the practice of hiring others to take classes.

Regarding the concerns over students’ privacy, NJUCM said it has consulted with the police and legal authorities. As the classroom is a public place, there is no issue of an infringement on privacy.

Chiu E-ling, secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), pointed out that this kind of comprehensive surveillance of students violates their human rights and is unnecessary. Chiu also questions how the collected data will be used.

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 3, 2019