Victoria schools student attendance facial recognition

Occurred: 2019

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A 2019 trial of facial recognition technology at several private schools in Victoria state, Australia, met with a strong backlash from civil and digital rights advocates, complaints from students, and resulted in a clamp down by the state government.

Developed by Melbourne-based startup LoopLearn (since rebranded to LoopSafe), the system was intended to automate the process of marking student attendance in class and tracking their whereabouts, sending the information to a web dashboard and app accessible by teachers and school management.

However, privacy experts said the system was inappropriate, unjustified, and amounted to comprehensive student surveillance. Media reports said the company was unable to say how it secures and stores data, or who potentially could have access to it. 

A review by the Victorian government found major privacy risks in the system, and banned schools from using facial recognition in classrooms unless they conduct a rigorous assessment and gain the approval of parents, students, and the state’s education department.

Australia's Federal Government had awarded LoopLearn AUS 500,000 to become commercially viable under its Accelerating  Commercialisation programme.

Operator: Ballarat Clarendon College; Clarendon College; Sacred Heart College; Waverley College
Developer: LoopSafe/LoopLearn

Country: Australia

Sector: Education

Purpose: Register attendance, monitor location

Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy; Ethics; Surveillance

Transparency: Governance; Privacy; Marketing