Privacy fears as kids' FACES are scanned to pay for lunch in UK schools for the first time in a bid to speed up queues
CHILDREN will be able to pay for lunch using their faces as schools trial new software to speed up canteen queues.
But privacy campaigners claim the trial could normalise technology being used without the consent of the people who are being tracked.
From today nine schools in Ayrhire, Scotland, are trialling the software which checks a register of faces stored on the school’s servers, the Financial Times reports.
The technology, which would replace fingerprint scanning software, is said to be more Covid-secure than card payments while slashing the average transaction time to five seconds.
David Swanston, managing director of CRB Cunninghams, the firm that installed the systems, told the FT: “It’s the fastest way of recognising someone at the till — it’s faster than card, it’s faster than fingerprint.
"In a secondary school you have around about a 25-minute period to serve potentially 1,000 pupils.
"So we need fast throughput at the point of sale."
But privacy campaigners claim it normalises technology often used without the consent of the people who are being tracked.
Facial recognition software is most commonly used at airports to scan for criminals or terrorists.
But it has been installed on mobile phones and is used by social networking sites to organise photos of people.
Silkie Carlo of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “It’s normalising biometric identity checks for something that is mundane.
"You don’t need to resort to airport style [technology] for children getting their lunch."
It’s the fastest way of recognising someone at the till — it’s faster than card, it’s faster than fingerprint
Mr Swanson says his firm's technology is different to live facial recognition, which has been used by schools to monitor attendance and security.
New York State has temporarily banned the practice in its schools.
North Ayrshire council said 97 per cent of children or their parents had consented to the new system.
But some parents have voiced fears that peer pressure may have played a part in their child's decision, the FT reports.
A council spokesman said: “Pupils often forget their PINs and unfortunately some have also been the victim of PIN fraud, so they are supportive of the planned developments and appreciate the benefits to them."
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