Replied to Digitally Literate #231 by an author

I’ve come to the conclusion that because information constantly increases, there’s never going to be privacy…Laws have to determine what’s legal, but you can’t ban technology. Sure, that might lead to a dystopian future or something, but you can’t ban it.

Ian, I am intrigued by the idea of banning the use of facial recognition software by police.

One city banning its law enforcement from making use of facial recognition won’t necessarily stop a sheriff’s department from creating a surveillance dragnet — nor would it necessarily stop a private institution within a city from enacting its own facial-recognition program. For now, the bans don’t touch on third-party companies whose data is used by facial-recognition algorithms.

My wondering is what this means for third-party applications in schools? In the community? It still feels like the cat might be out of the bag? I fear that some vendors will continue to cash in and work as mercenaries. I hope I am wrong.

I am also taking by the argument that we need to focus on surveillance, not just facial recognition.

Liked Opinion: Ban Facial Recognition Before It’s Too Late (BuzzFeed News)

There is no amount of regulation, transparency, or oversight that will fix the dangers inherent in widespread face surveillance. Only a full ban — a federal ban, covering the use of facial recognition by government agencies, in public places, and in public contracts with private entities — can prevent our nightmares from becoming reality.

Liked Opinion: We Stopped Facial Recognition From Invading Music Festivals. Now Let’s Stop It Everywhere Else. (BuzzFeed News)

The surveillance dystopia of our nightmares is not inevitable — and the way we kept it out of concerts and festivals is a lesson for the future.

Bookmarked The Delicate Ethics of Using Facial Recognition in Schools (Wired)

A growing number of districts are deploying cameras and software to prevent attacks. But the systems are also used to monitor students—and adult critics.

Tom Simonite and Gregory Barber discuss the rise in facial recognition within US schools. This software is often derived from situations such as Israeli checkpoints. It serves as a ‘free‘ and ‘efficient‘ means for maintaining student safety at the cost of standardising a culture of surveillance. What is worse is the argument that the use of facial recognition is a case of fighting fire with fire:

“You meet superior firepower with superior firepower,” Matranga says. Texas City schools can now mount a security operation appropriate for a head of state. During graduation in May, four SWAT team officers waited out of view at either end of the stadium, snipers perched on rooftops, and lockboxes holding AR-15s sat on each end of the 50-yard line, just in case.(source)

I am with Audrey Watters here, what is ‘delicate’ ethics?

Bookmarked Opinion | We Built an ‘Unbelievable’ (but Legal) Facial Recognition Machine (

Our experiment shows that a person equipped with just a few cameras and facial recognition technology can learn people’s daily habits: when they arrive at the office each day, who they get coffee with, whether they left work early. When we identified Dr. Madonna, he was on his way to lunch with a job candidate — an example of how the midday outings of even law-abiding citizens can sometimes be sensitive information.

Sahil Chinoy reports on an experiment designed to demonstrate how easy it is to track people without their knowledge. Images captured by a public camera were run through through Amazon’s commercial facial recognition service. The system detected 2,750 faces from a nine-hour period at the total cost of about $60. It is interesting to think of this alongside the rise of NEC, Curtin Universities use of cameras and China’s development of social credit.


Facial recognition is categorically different from other forms of surveillance, Mr. Hartzog said, and uniquely dangerous. Faces are hard to hide and can be observed from far away, unlike a fingerprint. Name and face databases of law-abiding citizens, like driver’s license records, already exist. And for the most part, facial recognition surveillance can be set up using cameras already on the streets.

Replied to Hey mom, did you see this? Camps are using facial recognition, latest use of controversial tech (Digital Breadcrumbs)

Do you trust these companies to hold your data forever? Will they be in business forever? What is their plan to delete, obfuscate, destroy your photos after a specific time period?

For me, this comes back to being informed. The question I ask is convenience at what cost? I respect that I may not be able to own all my data, but there is something about such companies (Facebook included) that just doesn’t feel right in schools. It kind of reminds me of AltSchool. Do we need such surveillance, at all?

I highly recommend Ben Williamson’s book Big Data in Education on many of these matters.

Liked Facial Recognition Technology Has No Place in Schools by Doug Levin (

Cory Doctorow’s novel, Little Brother, was intended as an act of science fiction, not a prediction. Other countries – like China and the UK – are already moving down the path of facial recognition in schools. In the U.S., we would do well to follow a different path.

Bookmarked Facial-Recognition Systems Pitched as School-Safety Solutions, Raising Alarms (Education Week)

“If we had a student who committed some type of offense against the code of conduct, we can follow that student throughout the day to see maybe who they interacted with, where they were prior to the incident, where they went after the incident, so forensically we could also use the software in that capacity as well,” Rabey told the News in May.

Benjamin Herold reports on the introduction of facial recognition devices into schools. Many seem to be selling this as a means of creating a safe school environment. The concern raised by some is that this has not been thought out and until schools can actually think of a justified reason why then they should not engage with such technology, even if it is free.
Bookmarked Facebook’s Push for Facial Recognition Prompts Privacy Alarms by Natasha Singer (

Facebook is working to spread its face-matching tools even as it faces heightened scrutiny from regulators and legislators in Europe and North America.

Natasha Singer discusses Facebook’s continual push for facial recognition. She discusses some of the history associated with Facebook’s push into this area, including various roadblocks such as GDPR. She also looks at some of the patent applications, such as:

A system that could detect consumers within stores and match those shoppers’ faces with their social networking profiles. Then it could analyze the characteristics of their friends, and other details, using the information to determine a “trust level” for each shopper.


Cameras near checkout counters could capture shoppers’ faces, match them with their social networking profiles and then send purchase confirmation messages to their phones.

This made me wonder how many patents actually come to fruition and how many are a form of indirect marketing?