Privacy fears as children’s FACES scanned to pay for lunch at 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 test new software to speed up canteen queues.

But privacy activists say the lawsuit could standardize technology used without the consent of the people being tracked.


Facial recognition computers are used to try to speed up queues in school canteensCredit: Getty

As of today, nine schools in Ayrhire, Scotland are testing software that checks a face registry stored on school servers, the Financial Times reports.

The technology, which would replace fingerprint scanning software, would be more secure against Covid than card payments while reducing average transaction time to five seconds.

David Swanston, managing director of CRB Cunninghams, the company that installed the systems, told FT: “This is the fastest way to recognize someone at the checkout – it’s faster than the card, c is faster than fingerprints.

“In a high school, you have about a period of about 25 minutes to potentially serve 1,000 students.


“So we need fast flow at the point of sale.”

But privacy activists say it normalizes technology often used without the consent of the people being tracked.

Facial recognition software is most often used at airports to search for criminals or terrorists.

But it was installed on mobile phones and is used by social networking sites to organize photos of people.

Silkie Carlo of the Big Brother Watch campaign group said: “This is about standardizing biometric identity checks for something mundane.

“You don’t have to resort to the airport style [technology] for children who take their lunch. “

It’s the fastest way to recognize someone at checkout – it’s faster than a card, it’s faster than a fingerprint

David Swanston, Managing Director of CRB Cunninghams

Mr Swanson says his company’s technology is different from live facial recognition, which has been used by schools to monitor attendance and safety.

New York State has temporarily banned the practice in its schools.

North Ayrshire Council said 97% of children or their parents had consented to the new system.

But some parents have expressed concern that peer pressure may have played a role in their child’s decision, reports the FT.

A council spokesperson said: “Students often forget their PIN code and unfortunately some have also been victims of PIN code fraud, so they support the planned developments and appreciate the benefits for them.”

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