Hangzhou No. 11 Middle School student surveillance

Occurred: May 2018

The installation of a 'smart classroom behaviour management system' which analyses students to make sure they are paying attention triggered a backlash from students, parents, and privacy advocates.

Jointly developed by Hikvision and Hangzhou No. 11 Middle School, the system's 'wisdom eyes' scan students’ faces every 30 seconds to identify seven types of emotions and six types of behaviour, with students receiving a real-time attentiveness score. Teacher display screens issue notifications about which students were inattentive twenty minutes into each class. 

The Hangzhou school vice principal said that after a month-long trial, students had begun to accept the monitoring and had improved their behaviour. But the action resulted in debate on the value and effectiveness on the system, and others like it. It also triggered a backlash from students, parents and privacy advocates, leading to programme being stalled.

Operator: Hangzhou No. 11 Middle School
Developer: China Electronics Technology Group/Hikvision

Country: China

Sector: Education

Purpose: Assess student attentiveness

Technology: Facial recognition; Emotion recognition; Deep learning; Neural network; Machine learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - gender, ethnicity; Surveillance; Privacy; Security

Transparency: Governance; Marketing; Privacy

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: February 2023
Last updated: November 2023