China-style facial recognition technology being used in Australian schools
Facial recognition has moved into Australian schools, with help from the Federal government.
Five schools are trialling a pilot to mark students present, which has some state governments alarmed.
In China the faces of students are scanned to let them in to schools. In the US, cameras patrol classrooms
Looplearn's system has already been tested at Clarendon College in Victoria. It scans a person's face, to mark their attendance in class, sending the information to an app, potentially on a teacher's smartphone.
However, privacy experts are also concerned about what might happen to the information.
"We're really sleep walking into a surveillance society," privacy expert Terry O'Gorman, said.
"Who's going to get this data what are they going to to do with it because data is now regarded as the new oil." Looplearn says it's in schools, in part thanks to a federal government grant of almost half a million dollars.
It's money from the same fund, which Nine News revealed granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to the makers of a divorce app.
Minister Karen Andrews is standing firm. "We shouldn't be limiting necessarily the development of that technology," she said.
But it's not the view of some states.
Earlier this year, the Victorian government tried to stop schools from using this product after a review found major privacy risks.
Looplearn refuses to say which five schools are trialling its system, but once boasted of a waiting list, of more than 10.
The company denies its system is classroom surveillance, insisting it meets high security standards.
But it can't say what makes it so secure, where the data is stored, or other than the school, who potentially could have access to it.
Mr O'Gorman said parents should be asking if it's worth it.
The Federal Government concedes while its paid Looplearn a tidy sum, the facial scanners are unlikely to be rolled out nationally, and the technology could be sold overseas.
The question is, to who.
A spokesperson for LoopLearn, said: "Under the law, schools are required to record accurate attendance records at regular intervals throughout the school day - LoopLearn automates this, improving attendance recording accuracy and speed for schools.
"LoopLearn meets high-security standards and is not a surveillance system. It replaces existing manual processes.
"Any images that may be captured are for the specific purpose of enabling attendance to be marked."