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Support for biometrics soft in New York schools

Categories Biometrics News  |  Facial Recognition  |  Schools
Support for biometrics soft in New York schools

The New York State’s IT Services Office released a report on biometrics in schools that recommends caution before putting it in any public or private elementary and secondary school.

The report, mandated by the state legislature focuses on facial and fingerprint biometrics, and, of the two, facial recognition warrants the most concern in schools.

Fingerprint scanning is not uncommon in state schools today and present fewer risks that cannot be mitigated when compared to collecting face templates, according to the report.

Risks with face biometrics “may outweigh any documented benefits” and “there may be limitations on the ability to reduce” them.

An exception is one-to-one face matches for unlocking laptops and other hardware. This is especially useful for younger children who may struggle to use passwords.

The public survey, mostly aimed parents of school children, found that most people think the risks of biometrics in schools outweigh the benefits. Most frequently cited concerns include privacy, discrimination, constitutionality and poor use of funding. A majority of respondents said that there are no specific applications where biometric technology should be allowed in schools.

The most common reason respondents think biometric technology should not be used, regardless of the situation, is that there is little need for it. More respondents are open to biometrics being used to unlock a device where the data is locally stored.

In 2020, the Lockport City School District had to shelve a 300-camera system. That was the same year the network went live after a state moratorium was placed on school use of biometrics.

The state education commissioner must now decide what to do with the recommendations, which will determine whether such a system should be placed in any state public school in the foreseeable future.

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