CU Colorado Springs Prof Secretly Photographed Students for Government-Backed Facial Recognition Research

4 months ago

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Denverpost tells a shocking story of a professor at the University of Colorado’s Colorado Springs campus who led a secret surveillance project. Turns out, photos of more than 1,700 students, faculty members, and staff have been secretly snapped over six years ago. The project reportedly meant to enhance facial-recognition technology. The Typical Student team learned the details. 

 

Does Surveillance Experiment Pose Any Privacy Infringement?

 

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The long-range surveillance photos were published on the web as a dataset that could be publicly downloaded from 2016 until this past April. While professor Terrance Boult and CU see the project as an effort to protect student privacy, a law prof at the University of Denver doubted if an experiment like this is crossing ethical boundaries. Prof Bernard Chao, who teaches the intersection of law and technology at DU commented as follows: "It’s yet another area where we’re seeing privacy intrusions that disturb us."  

 

The Gist Of Surveillance Experiment

 

 

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As told by Denverpost, for the sake of experiment, prof Boult set up a long-range surveillance camera in an office window about 150 meters away from the West Lawn of the Colorado Springs campus. West Lawn is a public walking area where over 16,000 pictures were taken, producing 1,732 unique identities. In order to protect student privacy, Boult waited 5 years to release the dataset to the public. He believed that this way, other people were unable to "figure out a student’s whereabouts in case of a domestic violence concern or a clandestine military placement."

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