One month after the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit against the New York State Education Department for its decision to approve the use of facial recognition technology at the Lockport City Schools last year, the New York State legislature passed a bill banning the use of biometric identification in schools until the year 2022.
The lawsuit — which looks to have the State Education Department revoke its approval of the Lockport system and deactivate it — was filed on behalf of Lockport parents Jim Shults and Renee Cheatham, who according to the NYCLU, say that the use of the technology is a violation of laws aimed at protecting students’ biometric data.
“We’ve said for years that facial recognition and other biometric surveillance technologies have no place in schools, and this is a monumental leap forward to protect students from this kind of invasive surveillance,” said Stefanie Coyle, the Deputy Director of the Education Policy Center in a statement on behalf of the NYCLU. “Schools should be an environment where children can learn and grow, and the presence of a flawed and racially-biased system constantly monitoring students makes that impossible,” she added.
Coyle and NYCLU highlighted the reality of both the existence of racial discrimination in society and the racial and gender bias that multiple facial recognition technologies have been proven to show. A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study released in December of last year that looked at 18 million photos of 8 million people revealed that Asian and African American people were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white men.
“False positives, in which the wrong student is identified, can result in traumatic interactions with law enforcement, loss of class time, disciplinary action, and potentially a criminal record,” read Coyle’s statement. “New York schools should never dedicate funding to speculative surveillance technology when the need for resources in the classroom and remote-learning settings are so direly needed.”
July 23, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis