“The Department of Education has approved the use of facial recognition for the identification of sex offenders and individuals deemed to be a credible security threat; but it has ruled out the technology’s use in identifying students who have been suspended from the school.”
Officials with the Lockport City School District have reached a compromise with counterparts at the New York State Department of Education that should allow them to proceed with school deployments of a biometric security system based on facial recognition.
When news of the planned deployment came to light last summer, it prompted an outcry from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which expressed concerns about privacy, including a worry that the biometric technology could be used to report students who are non-citizens to ICE. Subsequently, in May of this year, the Department of Education asked the Lockport City School District to delay the deployment while it developed a set of policy guidelines pertaining to how this technology might be used.
Those guidelines have now arrived. The Department of Education has approved the use of facial recognition for the identification of sex offenders and individuals deemed to be a credible security threat; but it has ruled out the technology’s use in identifying students who have been suspended from the school.
Officials with the Lockport City School District have complied, though Superintendent Michelle Bradley indicated to a local news outlet that they still believe the biometric security should have been applied to suspended students. “We believe in the initial policy that that category should have been in the policy but the State Education Department is not comfortable with that, and that’s why it’s been removed,” she said.
The compromise paves the way for what could turn into a wave of biometric security in the state’s schools. And it may offer an indication of how a balance might be found between security and privacy as the larger debate around the public use of facial recognition technology continues.