SWEDEN - School Facial Recognition Leads to Fine

Arno Froese

A watchdog has penalized a local authority for trialing facial recognition on high-school students in Sweden to keep track of attendance.

The Swedish Data Protection Authority (DPA) fined the Skelleftea municipality 200,000 Swedish Krona (£16,800, $20,700) for flouting a privacy law.

The trial involved tracking 22 students over three weeks and detecting when each pupil entered a classroom.

The General Data Protection Regulation, which came into force last year, classes facial images and other biometric information as being a special category of data, with added restrictions on its use.

According to technology magazine ComputerSweden, Swedish authorities decided to investigate after reading media reports of Anderstorp’s High School’s trial.

The local authority told Swedish state broadcaster SVT Nyheter in February that teachers had been spending 17,000 hours a year reporting attendance, and the authority had decided to see whether facial-recognition technology could speed up the process.

According to the DPA ruling, although the school secured parents’ consent to monitor the students, the regulator did not feel that it was a legally adequate reason to collect such sensitive personal data.

The regulator noted that although some parts of the school could be deemed to be “public,” students had a certain expectation of privacy when they entered a classroom.

It said there were less intrusive ways that their attendance could have been detected without involving camera surveillance.

As a result, the DPA found that Skelleftea’s local authority had unlawfully processed sensitive biometric data, as well as failing to complete an adequate impact assessment, which would have included consulting the regulator and gaining prior approval before starting the trial.

-www.bbc.com, 27 August 2019

Arno's commentary

The issue here is class attendance; facial recognition takes the burden off the shoulders of the teachers, and lets the computer do the work. At this point, however, the Swedish Data Protection Authority has decided that the pupils “have a certain expectation of privacy.” This is an unusual case, and we may call it a stumbling stone toward the goal of total recognition and control of all people everywhere.

Based on our understanding of the prophetic Word, artificial intelligence will eventually be implemented globally. It will reduce crime, violence, and war between the nations. That will be considered the ultimate freedom for humanity, but at the same time, we recognize it will be the final deception.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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