The New York State Legislature in United States, adopted on July 22 a moratorium on facial recognition and other biometric technologies until 2022.
The moratorium must be signed by the governor
The bill, which has yet to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, is a response to the installation of facial recognition devices by the City of Lockport School District. According to Venture Beat, it is the first American state to want to regulate the use of this technology specifically in schools.
Last January, Lockport schools became among the first in the United States to adopt facial recognition in all schools from kindergarten to high school, which serve approximately 5,000 students. This technology, designed by the Canadian SN Technologies, ensures the safety of schoolchildren by detecting the presence of dangerous individuals. It can also spot the presence of firearms and alert administrative staff and law enforcement. It costs $ 1.4 million.
The fear of a giant hackable database
But this device is not to everyone’s taste. Some fear that this technology will be used to monitor all students and lead to the creation of a huge biometric database that can be easily hacked. “Once we allow facial recognition technology in schools, it will open the door to millions and millions of dollars being spent by the state on technology whose reliability, accuracy and value are truly questionable compared to the risks. related to the use of this technology, the protection of privacy, false positives and much more“said Monica Wallace, member of the New York Assembly, behind the bill passed today.
A month ago, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Lockport schools on behalf of concerned parents of students. The association therefore welcomed this moratorium. “Facial recognition is notoriously inaccurate, especially when it comes to identifying women and people of color. For children, whose appearance changes rapidly as they grow older, the accuracy of biometric technologies is even more questionable. False positives, when the wrong student is identified, can lead to traumatic interactions with law enforcement, waste of class time, disciplinary action, and possibly a criminal record.“, argued Stefanie Coyle, member of the association in charge of educational policies.
French justice says no to facial recognition in high schools
The question of facial recognition in schools has also arisen in France. The regional council of the PACA region had authorized the establishment of a security gantry using facial recognition at the entrance of two high schools in the South of France. Attacked by associations and federations of parents of students, the device was finally canceled by the administrative court of Marseille.