More than 43,000 Russian schools will be equipped with facial recognition cameras ominously named “Orwell,” according to a news report by The Moscow Times. The Orwell platform is described as a image-recognition monitoring system that uses computer vision algorithms, and will be integrated with face recognition, as well, says the report.
Yevgeny Lapshev, a spokesman for the Orwell platform, notes the technology is meant to ensure students' safety by monitoring their movements and identifying outsiders on the premises, reports The Moscow Times. In addition, Lapshev claimed that databases would be stored locally to avoid breaches. He also stressed that parents and children won’t be added without their consent. In the future, the surveillance technology could be used to take attendance, monitor teachers’ working hours and be used for distance learning, notes the report.
The report adds that implementing this technology within schools, a $25.4 million project, is part of President Vladimir Putin’s ambitious “digitalization” program that envisions spending $25 billion on developing Russia’s digital economy. Facial recognition technology in Moscow has been extensively deployed already, notes The Moscow Times, to identify criminal suspects across a network of almost 200,000 surveillance cameras. "Critics have accused the technology of violating citizens' privacy and have staged protests against the system by painting their faces," adds the report.