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New York schools told not to use facial recognition technology

The state Education Department banned the technology following a report that facial recognition risks violating students' privacy and civil rights.
New York schools told not to use facial recognition technology
Posted at 7:42 AM, Sep 28, 2023

The New York State Education Department issued a ban on most uses of facial recognition technology in schools following a new report. 

The report commissioned by the state indicates that the risks of using facial recognition technology outweigh the benefits. 

The report looked at 12 aspects of using facial recognition technology in schools, from its impact on civil rights to its accuracy and its effectiveness. The report indicated that some schools have considered using the technology for instances such as taking attendance and for security purposes.

"While there can be benefits to the use of FRT in a school setting, the research conducted and reviewed for this report shows there are discernable risks to the use of this technology in school settings," the report reads. "These risks may outweigh any documented benefits discussed above, and given that the research shows that there may be limitations on the ability to reduce these risks, caution should be used in implementing this technology. As this technology is continuously evolving, schools should revisit any policies or limitations on a frequent basis to determine if changes are needed."

SEE MORE: Carjacking case arrest spurs call for police to end facial recognition

One of the biggest concerns raised by the report is the technology's impact on the civil rights of students. The report said that the technology tended to have more false positives for people of color, nonbinary and transgender people, women, the elderly, and children. 

The report follows similar research conducted by the University of Michigan. Its 2020 project suggested that most uses of facial recognition technology should be banned from schools. 

The University of Michigan report suggested that the technology exacerbates racism, normalizes surveillance and creates data risks. 

"Based on our analysis, we strongly recommend that the technology be banned for use in schools," the report read. "However, if schools and departments of education decide to proceed with FR, then they must do so cautiously, after extensive expert deliberation and public participation (particularly among vulnerable groups), and with a clear regulatory framework that considers the social, ethical, racial, and economic dimensions of the technology — far more than the technology’s accuracy."

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