A New York State Supreme Court judge has thrown out a facial recognition lawsuit against the Lockport City School District. The lawsuit was originally filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and a group of parents in June of 2020, after the District activated an extensive facial recognition system at its public schools in January that same year.
While the ruling seems like a victory for the School District (at least on the surface), the outcome ultimately favors the objectives of the plaintiffs, who had sued in the hopes that the court would shut down the facial recognition system. However, the case attracted a considerable amount of press and public attention, which eventually prompted the New York State legislature to pass a new law that bans facial recognition in schools until July of 2022. That bill received the governor’s signature and went into effect in December.
It also played a key role in the judge’s decision. The December bill effectively did what the plaintiffs had been hoping to achieve, and legally barred Lockport from using its facial recognition system. As a result, the judge ruled that the lawsuit was redundant, and that no further judicial action was necessary to get the desired effect.
The Lockport School District installed more than 300 facial recognition cameras as part of a $3.8 million security update. At the time, the school claimed that the project had received the approval of the New York State Department of Education, though civil rights activists and concerned parents countered that face-based surveillance violated the state’s privacy laws.
The December bill was passed to give lawmakers and administrators more time to evaluate the potential impact of a surveillance system. The temporary ban could be lifted before next July if the Education Department and the Office of Information Technology Services are able to complete a full report on the technology before that deadline.
Source: State Scoop
September 9, 2021 – by Eric Weiss