Lawsuit over face biometrics in school security system ruled, ‘no longer relevant’

A lawsuit filed by parents against the New York State school district that planned to deploy facial recognition in schools has concluded with a judge ruling that a state ban has already settled the issue, Buffalo News reports.

A state law signed in December 2020 invalidated the approval of Lockport School District’s face biometrics system by the state Education Department. The lawsuit was filed six months prior to the bill being signed into law.

Some 300 cameras have already been deployed to school district buildings, but their facial recognition capability cannot be activated until it receives future approval, which could come at the conclusion of an Education Department study on the privacy issues associated with the system, or July 1, 2022, when the moratorium comes to its scheduled end.

State Supreme Court Justice James H. Ferreira also suggested that it appears student data collected by the system would be covered by existing laws on disclosure. Buffalo News notes that federal testers said in 2019 that the Aegis system from SN Technologies made more than 99 percent of matches correctly, but that most false positive matches were of Black students.

Four parents from the Lockport District were represented in the case by attorneys from the New York Civil Liberties Union. One of the parents called the $2.7 million investment by the school board a “waste of taxpayer funds that should never have been made in the first place.”