Facial recognition technology is spreading through society—used by police in cities like Detroit to identify suspects, for instance, and at retail stores to thwart shoplifters. The tech is also increasingly coming to high schools, spurred by fears of mass shootings and the promise to flag suspicious visitors before they can do harm. Facial recognition has barely made its way onto college campuses, though; and student activists are organizing a national campaign to keep it that way.
“The reason that we’re coming at this so hard and so quickly is because there is really aggressive marketing by facial recognition companies to use scare tactics to get administrations to sign onto this technology,” says Erica Darragh, a national board member of the group Students for Sensible Drug Policy, or SSDP. (A company called FaceFirst, for instance, sells monitoring packages for schools and colleges.)