Facial Recognition Technology in Schools: Privacy Protection vs. Campus Security


As facial recognition technology becomes more popular in China, its applications are moving beyond Smart Security and Smart Pay into other fields. Facial recognition technology, however, remains controversial: People enjoy its convenience but are afraid that it takes away privacy. Recently, the Taiwan government’s proposal about Smart Education caught the media’s attention and evoked the public’s concerns about privacy. Although the Taipei City government has stated that it is not planning to allow the widespread use of the technology because of privacy concerns, the issue is still ongoing.

The widespread application of facial recognition technology in education would not only promote more effective and efficient teaching, but also improve campus security. However, where should we draw the line between privacy protection and campus security? When it comes to implementing the technology it is vital to strike a balance between these concerns.

Prioritizing Campus Security

For kindergartens, elementary schools, and junior high schools, facial recognition technology can solve one of parents’ biggest concerns: campus security. Schools cannot solely rely on campus guards to monitor visitors. The random murder of a primary school student by an unauthorized visitor in 2015 is still vivid in the public’s mind.

Facial recognition systems have the potential to be far more effective than alternative physical systems involving guards or electric fences. With the technology, schools can implement Black Lists to prevent suspicious people from entering school campuses. When unauthorized people on the Black List try to enter schools, the systems will alert administrators and assist in preventing danger on campus. In the same way, White Lists can ensure that children are picked up from school by pre-approved parents or family friends. Promoting safety on school campuses is an issue that all of us care about, facial recognition systems can play a vital role in improving it.

Respecting Individuals’ Privacy

In high school and university campuses, students do not view security to be as big of an issue. Instead, older students share a concern about protecting personal privacy. To address these concerns, it is vital that facial recognition technology should be implemented in an ethical way that doesn’t infringe on the privacy rights of students.

The bottom line is that the development implementation of facial recognition technology in school and university campuses requires a responsible approach that enhances security while respecting personal privacy. Close cooperation between technology suppliers, governments, parents, and students will be critical to achieve this objective.

Note: Amy Lin, a graduate from the National University of Kaohsiung with a major in Business Administration, has an interest in facial recognition technology and its impact on campus security.

Are you interested in a role that facial recognition technology will play in the future of education? Read the related articles from our FRT in Education series:
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