University turns off controversial cameras
The university has decided to turn off all the so-called ‘classroom scanners’ at the entrances of the lecture halls until further notice.
Thursday 9 December 2021
One of the newly installed camera's above a regular security camera at the entrance of the Lipsius building. Photo Taco van der Eb

That is what the university published on its website this afternoon. This turnaround follows the University Council’s letter criticising the Executive Board’s policy. Last week, students held a protest against the cameras at the Lipsius building.

In the message posted today, the Board says that the concern surrounding the cameras is a reason to evaluate the system. President Annetje Ottow explains that the Board takes the concerns of students and employees seriously. ‘Given the doubts that have arisen among employees and students, we think a time-out and an external investigation into the system are very important’, Ottow says.

The decision to turn off the cameras was directly prompted by a letter from the University Council in which the Council asked the Board to pay more attention to the privacy of students and employees. When ‘implementing privacy-sensitive technologies, the Board must give greater and more transparent consideration to privacy in the decision-making process’. The Council wishes to participate in the discussions and wants the Board to provide an overview of files that contain any privacy-sensitive content.

The Council also stresses ‘the importance of consistent and clear communication in the unlikely event that a discussion arises about concerns regarding the safeguarding of privacy’.

The University Council also strongly opposes the Executive Board’s attack on Mare regarding #cameragate. On Monday, the Board accused Mare of publishing incorrect information about the 371 smart cameras installed at the university. The Council ‘regrets’ this action and holds the Board accountable for the commotion.

The Council also feels that the Board has not been transparent enough towards Mare. ‘Mare repeatedly ran into a brick wall when requesting information. The Council defends the ‘importance of an independent and critical university newspaper and therefore urges the Board to be transparent and to provide Mare with access to information’.

It is not yet clear when the external audit of the camera system will take place.