BLSJCL Speaker Event: Press Pause on Face Surveillance


Olivia Santoro speaks on civil liberties issues and current state and federal legislation pending on privacy issues. (Photo by: Louisa Hemr (III))

On March 3, the Boston Latin School Junior Classical League (BLSJCL) hosted a service event featuring Olivia Santoro, a speaker from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who discussed concerns regarding facial recognition technology.

This event was open for all grade levels to attend and was part of a year-long Massachusetts JCL service initiative that encouraged students to engage in community advocacy.

Santoro, a community outreach strategist for the ACLU, gave an hour-long lecture emphasizing the need for state legislature to prohibit the use of technology in tracking citizens. Many activists have raised concerns about privacy issues that come along with facial recognition technology, potentially allowing for outside groups to analyze and identify individuals without their consent.

The lecture served to promote the “Press Pause on Face Surveillance” campaign, a movement that seeks to educate the public about facial recognition and the need for elected officials to prohibit the misuse of such technology.

Louisa Hemr (III), BLSJCL’s community service coordinator, organized the event. Believing that students would find the topic interesting, she reached out to Santoro through the “Request an ACLU Speaker” feature on the organization’s website.

Sylvie Hove (V) reflects on what she learned from the event, commenting, “One of the points that most sold the flaws of facial recognition is that women of color were most often wrongly identified.”

The lecture also provided students with an opportunity to earn community service hours. While attending the event resulted in one and a half service hours, students could also earn 15 service minutes for every letter they wrote to state representatives advocating for the regulation of facial recognition technology.

Hemr sees the event as a success, saying, “I think the people there found it interesting, and it was definitely cool for me at least to learn about how exactly bills are passed through the Massachusetts legislature system and generally how to contact elected officials that represent your area.”

Over the next few months, BLSJCL plans to organize additional events. BLSJCL board member, Mark Snekvik (V), states, “We’re planning another Nox Ludōrum for later this month, which is a game night [event], and a secret cooking activity coming either this month or next month. Also, [JCL State Convention is] coming up, which is one of the biggest events of the year! There’s a bunch of fun activities and competitions.”