According to a recent report, New York State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa has prohibited the use of facial recognition technology (FRT) in schools across the state. The decision was made after an extensive evaluation that found the potential risks to student privacy outweighed the supposed security benefits.
Under this new order, schools are not allowed to purchase or utilize FRT. However, they can still employ other forms of biometric identification technologies (BIT), such as fingerprint identification. It will be the responsibility of each school to carefully consider the implications of implementing BIT on student privacy and civil rights.
This move comes after the New York State Legislature assigned the Office of Information Technology Services to conduct a comprehensive study on biometric identification technology in schools. The resulting report, released in August, highlighted several concerning findings regarding FRT.
One significant concern raised by the report is that FRT has a higher rate of false positives for certain groups, including people of color, nonbinary and transgender individuals, women, elderly individuals, and children. Such false positives could potentially violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act if it is determined that these discrepancies disproportionately affect protected groups.
Additionally, the report cited another study which revealed that 70 percent of school shooters between 1980 and 2019 were current students who would not have been detected by FRT. This finding raises doubts about its efficacy in enhancing school security measures. Moreover, relying solely on technological solutions for security purposes may create a false sense of safety among school administrators.
Consequently, based on these findings and concerns surrounding FRT’s potential impact on civil rights and student safety, Commissioner Rosa concluded that BITs like fingerprint identification offer more significant benefits with minimal risks compared to FRT.
The prohibition on FRT in New York schools represents a notable step towards safeguarding student privacy while maintaining effective security measures. By taking into account both potential advantages and drawbacks associated with biometric technologies, education authorities can ensure a balanced approach that prioritizes student well-being.
In an era where technology is increasingly integrated into various aspects of our lives, it is crucial to critically evaluate its implications. This decision by Commissioner Rosa serves as a reminder that the adoption of any technology should be carefully considered, with particular attention given to potential risks and impacts on individual rights and privacy.
By prioritizing student safety while respecting their privacy and civil rights, New York State has set an example for other regions to follow. It underscores the importance of conducting thorough assessments before implementing new technologies in educational settings.
To read more about this development, please visit the source article at https://www.jurist.org/news/2023/09/new-york-bans-the-use-of-facial-recognition-technology-in-schools/.