NY state Assembly Member wants moratorium on biometric technology in grade schools

NY state Assembly Member wants moratorium on biometric technology in grade schools

In the upcoming legislative session, New York state Assembly Member Monica Wallace wants to focus all 2020 efforts on a bill that would suspend the use and acquisition of biometric technology, including facial recognition systems, in public schools until the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has had a chance to properly review the technology, writes Lockport Journal.

The bill was introduced in the 2019 legislative session but it was not discussed in the Senate. The Senate version is sponsored by Sen. Brian Kavanagh.

Last week, Aegis, a facial and object recognition system, became operational in the Lockport school district despite extensive controversy. Aegis software is built by Canadian company SN Technologies.

Lockport schools worked together with NYSED to address a number of privacy concerns, yet implementation was delayed twice. Wallace now says she is still concerned about the technology, biometric data protection and the lack of statewide policy to regulate its use in public schools. Furthermore, she feels state funds invested in biometric technology could be better used on improving educational technology.

“It can be used for security, but it’s also supposed to go to technology … to help the students learn in the new century,” Wallace said.

The district spent 1.4 million out of $4.2 million received to purchase and install the system. Aegis uses biometric facial recognition technology and gun detection to detect and categorize threats. It immediately alerts school personnel about flagged individuals on school property and law enforcement if guns are recognized.

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