Leiden University removes cameras after concerns about privacy

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Leiden University building

In association with
Broadcasting West
NOS News

Leiden University will definitively stop using smart cameras in its various buildings. The cameras are being dismantled, Omroep West reports.

The 371 ‘people counters’ were installed in the autumn of 2020, during corona time, to see how many people were walking around and whether the corona rules were observed in the university buildings.

But in practice it turned out that the cameras were also used to see whether study space was available. Students also complained that the cameras were smart enough to check their personal data. “Such as measuring your height, estimating your age, determining your gender and seeing whether you wear a face mask,” student Joris Wiebes told Omroep West at the time.

Student blockade

The university’s privacy officer conducted an initial investigation and discovered that users could also view information from the cameras without logging in. Passwords were secured with an insecure and outdated encryption.

At the beginning of December 2021, a large group of students twice blocked an entrance hall of the university, in protest against the use of the cameras. A few days later, the university administration turned off the cameras. This was done in anticipation of a recommendation from the University Council. That council, in which students and employees have a seat, has now taken a negative view and says that the major concerns about privacy cannot be dispelled.

Although the university board does not have to follow the council’s negative advice, it does. In time, all 371 cameras will be removed. They don’t go into the click, by the way. “The university is now drawing up a plan to dismantle the people counters/sensors and, from the point of view of sustainable reuse, wants to make an effort to give them a suitable reuse outside the university.” the board said on its website.

  • Leiden students protest again against smart cameras (which are now switched off)
  • Utrecht University stops camera test after student protest in Leiden
  • Leiden University temporarily disables controversial cameras
  • In association with

    Broadcasting West

  • Regional news

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