Nine schools in North Ayrshire suspended the use of facial recognition technology a few days after introducing it, following investigations by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The schools wanted pupils to use the contactless lunch payment system.
However, North Ayrshire Council said it had “temporarily suspended” the launch.
Separately, the Great Academy Ashton, in Ashton-under-Lyne, has decided to completely abandon the launch of a facial recognition system.
Principal David Waugh said it was in response to recent comments made by the ICO about the potential intrusiveness of facial recognition in a school setting.
“The combined facial recognition and fingerprinting system was part of an upgrade to the cashless restaurant system, so that the time it took to serve students was reduced, thus providing a better dining experience,” he said.
“However, we will not be using the facial recognition aspect.”
Last week, the ICO responded to media reports about schools’ plans to introduce facial recognition by saying organizations should consider a “less intrusive” approach wherever possible.
Separately, Professor Fraser Sampson, Commissioner for Biometrics and Surveillance Cameras for England and Wales, told the BBC that he expected public services that contemplate the use of facial recognition to think carefully before “deciding to use an obviously intrusive measure like facial recognition “.
Privacy activists had also criticized the schools’ plans.
On Friday, the North Ayrshire Council tweeted that it had decided to temporarily suspend the facial recognition system in secondary schools after receiving a series of inquiries about the technology.
“While we are confident that the new facial recognition system will work as intended, we have considered it prudent to revert to the previous Pin (Personal Identification Number) system as we consider the requests received,” the board added.
Jen Persson, director of child-focused digital rights group Defend Digital Me, said she welcomed the board’s decision.
“From places in the US to Europe, authorities are banning facial recognition,” he said.
“But in the UK we are using children as guinea pigs for the most invasive privacy technologies on the market.”
The BBC learned that another school in England that had planned to roll out facial recognition for lunch payments was either reconsidering the move or had completely canceled it.
A company that supplies facial recognition systems to schools, CRB Cunninghams, notes on its website that its technology works with face masks and can achieve an average service time of five seconds per pupil.
The BBC reached out to the company for comment.
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