School facial recognition pause passed in Assembly

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School facial recognition pause passed in Assembly

The legislation would prohibit elementary and secondary schools from purchasing biometric technology until July 1, 2022.
June 21, 2019

New York Assemblywoman Monica Wallace’s bill to pause the use of biometric technology passed in the Assembly on Thursday, perhaps drawing on momentum from Lockport City School District’s move to test its own facial recognition system earlier this month. The legislation, introduced by Wallace in March, would prohibit elementary and secondary schools from purchasing biometric technology – like facial recognition – until July 1, 2022. The goal, Wallace said, is not to enact a permanent ban, but to allow time for the Department of Education to study the technology’s benefits and risks, and impose regulations accordingly.

“Facial recognition is a new and untested technology, especially in schools,” Wallace said in a statement. “There are real questions about its reliability and about a school’s ability to protect sensitive student biometric data.”

But as the state Senate wrapped up session early Friday morning, the legislation failed to advance, pushing off the effort until next year. The companion bill in the state Senate was sponsored by Brian Kavanaugh, and co-sponsored by Zellnor Myrie and Julia Salazar.

Lockport City School District in Western New York was set to be the first in the nation to test a facial recognition system; the district eventually agreed to delay testing after a request from the state Department of Education.

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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