The New York State Department of Education has asked the Lockport City School District to delay its deployment of the first facial recognition surveillance system in a public school. The news comes shortly after Lockport announced that it would begin a trial run of its $1.4 million Aegis network on Monday, June 3rd, in an effort to get the system fully up and running before the start of the next school year in September.
The State Department cited concerns about data security and student privacy while making its decision, arguing that Lockport had not adequately demonstrated that it could deliver on either front. However, the Department indicated that it is currently developing a formal set of policy guidelines for state educators.
The news is likely to inflame the debate around facial recognition tech, which has been particularly contentious in the wake of the facial recognition ban in San Francisco. New York has already been through several high profile facial recognition scandals, including a disastrous MTA rollout and the exposure of a secret NYPD surveillance network.
The Lockport system has come under fire since it was announced in March of 2018. The funding for the program came from a New York Smart Schools Bond Act that was intended for educational tech like laptops and tablets. Lockport administrators justified the decision by citing concerns about the rising number of school shootings, emphasizing that the Aegis system has the ability to detect 10 different types of guns.
The Lockport District oversees eight schools. The New York Civil Liberties Union has formally spoken out against the use of the Aegis system, which is provided by SN Technologies.
Source: Buzzfeed News
May 31, 2019 – By Eric Weiss