More than 150 college faculty staff sign open letter against facial recognition on campus

Posted February 27, 2020, 1:38 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE on February 27, 2020
Contact: press@fightforthefuture.org, 978-852-6457

The letter comes days before a student led day national of action planned for this Monday

More than 150 college and university faculty members, staff, researchers, and others with academic positions have signed on to an open letter echoing the demands of students who are organizing to keep facial recognition surveillance off of higher education campuses. The letter was published online today, just days before students are planning a national day of action including protests and letter deliveries on campuses across the country. 

See the letter and list of signers here: https://onezero.medium.com/an-open-letter-from-faculty-and-staff-against-campus-facial-recognition-5ee5cf47cdc6

“Facial recognition poses a unique threat to safety, civil liberties, and academic freedom on campus,” the letter reads, “Facial recognition is invasive, enabling anyone with access to the system to watch students’ movements, try to analyze facial expressions, monitor who they talk to, what they do outside of class, and every move they make … We want to lend our support to students organizing to keep facial recognition off of our campuses. Students should not have to trade their right to safety and privacy for an education. Since facial recognition technology poses too many threats that cannot be avoided, it should not be used at all.”

The signatories include prominent security expert and lecturer Bruce Schneier, facial recognition experts Evan Selinger and Woodrow Hartzog, and Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, known for the theory of intersectionality, who was one of the UCLA faculty members falsely matched with a mugshot photo during a test Fight for the Future ran using Amazon’s commercially available facial recognition software. 

“Facial recognition has no place on college campuses,” said Kimberlé Crenshaw after UCLA caved to student pressure and abandoned its plan to implement facial recognition on campus, “I’m glad the administration listened to the community and is abandoning this plan. Other school administrators should follow suit. Racially biased surveillance does not make our communities safer.”

Evan Sellignger, a professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology who has written about facial recognition for the New York Times among other outlets, added: “Since higher education is a special institution where higher norms should prevail, a high standard of care is needed when considering whether to make changes that will fundamentally transform campus culture. Since adopting facial recognition technology will threaten academic freedom and student wellbeing, including the safety of those who are most vulnerable, there’s only one responsible choice to make. The technology must be rejected.”   

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