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Harvard Is Privately Tracking Student Attendance With Secret Cameras

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Everyone's skipped the occasional class here and there, but clearly Harvard University is taking it seriously. It's started tracking the attendance of its students using secret cameras—and it didn't tell them it was doing so.

The Harvard Crimson reports that the University has been using surveillance cameras to track attendance. The devices take photographs in lecture halls and then analyze the images. While the system can't apparently identify students, it can work out whether a seat is empty or not and then compare the total attendance to what it should be.


While those in charge of the experiment submitted the experiment to a review board ahead of carrying the trial out and deleted the photos immediately, Harvard students are understandably annoyed. The point here is that the 2,000 students on which the system was trialled has no chance to object or opt-out—they weren't aware such a test was even happening.

The issue is now being looked into by a University oversight committee—and in future, such studies will have to be OK'd by undergraduate Dean's office. [Harvard Crimson via Boston Globe via The Verge]


Image by Danny Munnerley under Creative Commons license