NewsLocal News


Gov. Cuomo signs ban on biometric scanning software in schools

Puts a two-year hold on facial recognition cameras in Lockport City School District
Posted at 5:38 AM, Dec 23, 2020

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — A program intended to keep students safe in a Niagara County school district is officially being put on hold.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has now banned the use of facial recognition technology in schools until at least July 2022.

The New York State Assembly passed the two-year moratorium on facial recognition software in July, more than six months after the Lockport City School District initially turned those cameras on following months of debate over privacy concerns.

Some fear the technology poses risks to students including high rates of misidentification of women, young people, and people of color in existing technology, as well as the safety and security of the data collected. Those concerns led two parents to sue the district in June.

The governor echoed those concerns in a press release Tuesday.

"Facial recognition technology could provide a host of benefits to New Yorkers, but its use brings up serious and legitimate privacy concerns that we have to examine, especially in schools... This legislation requires state education policymakers to take a step back, consult with experts and address privacy issues before determining whether any kind of biometric identifying technology can be brought into New York's schools. The safety and security of our children is vital to every parent, and whether to use this technology is not a decision to be made lightly."
Governor Andrew Cuomo

The Lockport City School District had planned on fully implementing the facial recognition software in September, more than two years after it first unveiled the program.

The state Office of Information Technology will work with the State Education Department on the benefits and drawbacks of the technology and will seek feedback from teachers, parents, and experts in school safety, data security, and student privacy issues.