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facial recognition

New York governor signs legislation blocking use of facial recognition technology in schools

Dec. 23, 2020
Schools cannot use certain types of biometric technology until the state completes a study of whether the technology is appropriate for use in schools.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation suspending the use of facial recognition technology and other kinds of biometric technology in schools until at least July 2022.

The governor says in a news release that the legislation calls for a study of whether use of the technology is appropriate in schools. Until that study is completed, the law places a moratorium on schools purchasing and using biometric identifying technology.

"Facial recognition technology could provide a host of benefits to New Yorkers, but its use brings up serious and legitimate privacy concerns that we have to examine, especially in schools," Cuomo says. "This legislation requires state education policymakers to take a step back, consult with experts and address privacy issues before determining whether any kind of biometric identifying technology can be brought into New York's schools. The safety and security of our children is vital to every parent, and whether to use this technology is not a decision to be made lightly."

The legislature acted after the Lockport (N.Y.) City School District adopted the technology last year as part of its security plans. That led to a lawsuit from civil rights advocates over privacy concerns.

The governor's office says those objecting to the use of the technology raised concerns about potential risks posed to students by some existing facial recognition and other biometrics, including reported high rates of misidentification of women, young people, and people of color as well as the safety and security of biometric data and corresponding student privacy concerns.

The state's Office of Information Technology will work with the State Education Department to seek feedback from teachers and parents, as well as experts in school safety, security, data and student privacy issues.

The study will address specific considerations outlined in the legislation, including the technology's potential effect on student civil liberties and privacy and how the data collected would be used.

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