New York bans facial recognition tech in schools until 2022

Lawmakers of the state of New York have passed legislation to pause the use of facial recognition technology in schools until 2022. The moratorium was introduced by State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assembly member Monica Wallace.

The bill imposes a nearly two-year moratorium, until July 1, 2022, on the use of facial recognition technology in public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools, including charter schools, and directs the New York State Education Department Commissioner to study the issue and determine whether or not the technology is appropriate for use in schools. If this technology is deemed appropriate, the Education Department must propose restrictions and guidelines on its use.

Wallace and Kavanagh want the state to take a closer look at the investment in and use of biometric identifying technology, like facial recognition, in schools. “Facial recognition technology has not been fully vetted and has proven to be ineffective in many cases. There are also questions about how the technology will be used, who will have access to the data, how long will it be retained, where will it be stored, and how much will it cost to maintain.

Additionally, multiple studies have questioned the accuracy of this technology and have found false positives when identifying children, women, and people of color. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, studying nearly 200 algorithms from 99 developers, found that Asian and Black faces were misidentified 100 times more often than their white counterparts,” says the release.

The moratorium gives state education officials time to carefully consider the issue of whether this technology can be used effectively and ethically in a school setting. The legislation requires the Education Department to hold a public hearing and to consult with relevant stakeholders, including parents, teachers, school administrators, and experts on school safety and data privacy.