North Ayrshire school meal payment verification

October 2021
Updated: March 2022

Nine schools in North Ayrshire, Scotland, have started taking payments for school lunches by using facial recognition to scan the faces of pupils.

According to the Financial Times, CBD Cunninghams, the company that developed the system, claims the system speeds up queues and protects students better against COVID-19 than the card payments and fingerprint scanners the schools used previously.

Privacy advocates reckon the new system is not needed, amounts to facial recognition normalisation, and operates without explicit consent.

The programme was suspended after the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) responded to the controversy by encouraging schools to take a 'less intrusive' approach where possible.

Operator: North Ayrshire Council
Developer: CRB Cunninghams
Sector: Education
Verify meal payments
Technology: Facial recognition
Privacy; Appropriateness/need
Opacity: Privacy