Will New York State Allow A Controversial Technology In Its Schools?
New York State is still deciding whether it will allow a controversial technology in its schools. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law temporarily stopping schools from using the technology after a lawsuit about violations of privacy from the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Back on December 22, 2020, when the moratorium was signed, Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director, said,
The moratorium on biometric surveillance is a landmark piece of legislation that should serve as a national model to stop the proliferation of faulty, harmful facial recognition technologies in schools. For children, whose appearances change rapidly as they grow, and for people of color and women more broadly, the accuracy of biometric technologies is highly questionable. This is especially important as schools across the state begin to acknowledge the experiences of Black and Brown students being policed in schools and funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline.
According to Government Technology, the moratorium was set to expire on July 1, 2022, or once New York State Education Department completed its fact-finding about the technology, whichever happened the latest. Now, almost a year after Gov. Cuomo's stop order, no decision has been made.
Government Technology says that an official confirmed to the site that biometric technology is still not allowed in New York State schools. Work on a report about the technology has begun, according to the official, but there is no end date, as of now. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the law Cuomo signed requires,
The commissioner of education, in consultation with the New York State Education Department’s chief privacy officer, to evaluate the privacy implications of biometric identifying technology and whether the technology differs in accuracy rate depending on the race, national origin, gender, age, or any other factor of those being scanned. The bill also requires feedback from teachers, school administrators, parents, school safety experts, and data privacy experts before the commissioner makes any recommendations about the use of this technology.
With the signing of the law, New York became the first state to ban (at least temporarily) the use of facial recognition technologies in schools.