UCLA abandons facial recognition surveillance plans

Occurred: February 2020

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) abandoned plans to install facial recognition after a backlash from students and others concerned about its potential for discrimination, surveillance, and impact on privacy.

UCLA announced (pdf) in September 2018 that it was planning to introduce facial recognition in order to improve campus safety and centralise campus security camera systems and give university police access to footage during emergencies.

The move resulted in a backlash from students and a campaign by digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, which used Amazon's facial recognition software Rekognition on UCLA sportspeople and faculty to demonstrate the technology's capacity for delivering false matches.

Backing down from the plan, UCLA  Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck said, 'the potential benefits are limited and are vastly outweighed by the concerns of the campus community.' 

UCLA would have been the first university in the US to adopt facial recognition.

Operator: UCLA
Developer: Unclear/unknown
Country: USA
Sector: Education
Purpose: Strengthen security; Increase safety
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Bias/disrimination - race, ethnicity; Effectiveness/value; Privacy; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance