New York State voted this week to suspend all implementation of facial recognition technology in schools for two years. The moratorium, approved by the New York Assembly and Senate on Wednesday, comes after an upstate school district adopted the technology earlier this year, which sparked a June lawsuit from New York. Civil Liberties Union on behalf of parents. If New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the law, the moratorium would freeze the use of any facial recognition school system in the state until July 1, 2022.
Earlier this week, a school district in Topeka, Kansas announced that it would use facial recognition technology in a temperature-monitoring kiosk for staff as part of its plan to reopen schools. Unfortunately, such a system would not be able to prevent the asymptomatic spread of the virus – one of the most difficult characteristics of COVID-19.
With the pandemic still ravaging the United States, the issue of reopening schools has become deeply politicized. In a briefing earlier this month, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany argued that “science shouldn’t stand in the way” of reopening.
“Facial recognition companies will use every angle they can to market their product to schools, but this one is just plain ridiculous,” said Caitlin Seeley George, campaign manager for Fight for the Future, of the setting. proposed implementation of the technology in Kansas schools. “Facial recognition will not stop the spread of COVID-19, and schools should not adhere to this hokum.”
The New York moratorium was seen as a major victory by digital privacy advocates, who question not only the potential concerns of surveillance technology for civil liberties, but also the technology’s ability to achieve its goals. declared. The effectiveness of this technology has been repeatedly criticized in studies demonstrating high rates of false positives and racial bias encoded in the systems themselves.
“We have been saying for years that facial recognition and other biometric monitoring technologies have no place in schools, and this is a monumental step forward in protecting students from this type of invasive monitoring,” said Stefanie Coyle, Deputy Director of the NYCLU Education Policy Center.
“Schools should be an environment where children can learn and grow, and the presence of a flawed and racist system that constantly monitors students makes that impossible.”