Facial biometrics in New York state schools blocked as legislature passes 2-year moratorium

Categories Biometrics News  |  Facial Recognition  |  Schools

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A moratorium has been placed on the use of facial recognition and other biometrics in New York schools until 2022 by the state legislature, VentureBeat reports.

New York State Education Department is mandated by the bill to study biometric identification to develop regulations for its potential future use.

Lockport City School District touched off a controversy when it announced plans to install cameras with facial recognition and weapons detection in its schools in early 2018.

When Lockport school board changed its policy regarding facial recognition earlier this month, president John Linderman reportedly could not assure stakeholders that student photos would always be excluded.

The ACLU issued a statement in support of the moratorium, focussing on racial disparities in law enforcement and alleging inaccuracy for women, people of color, and children. The group also filed a lawsuit against Lockport City School District in June to block its facial recognition implementation of the Aegis system from SN Technologies.

Lockport City School District Superintendent Michelle Bradley denied that there is a valid basis for blocking its deployment of facial recognition.

“Contrary to the constant misrepresentations by opponents of the Aegis, Aegis does not in any way record or retain biometric information relating to students or any other individuals on district grounds,” she says. “The legislative effort would result in over $1 million of taxpayer money being committed to an approved system that cannot be used to protect the district community from sex offenders and others who present a threat.”

The VentureBeat article repeats several popular misconceptions, including that the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has called for a universal moratorium and that NIST testing shows universal racial and gender bias.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

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