NY state orders school district to halt plans to use facial recognition

NY state orders school district to halt plans to use facial recognition
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The New York State Education Department on Thursday instructed a school district to delay its plans to implement the use of facial recognition technology.

"We have made it clear, the Department has not approved the testing of the system planned for next week and we told the District not to commence the testing of the technology until we receive information that assures us that student information will be properly protected," a spokesperson for the department told The Hill.

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Lockport City School District had planned to being testing its Aegis system on Monday, with plans to have it broadly operational by Sept. 1. 

The technology is meant to be used to identify if guns or flagged persons, such as sex offenders, enter school grounds.

The district did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on the order to delay the program.

The New York Education Department spokesperson said the agency is in the process of reviewing Lockport's facial recognition system and has not found sufficient protections for students' privacy or data. 

They added that New York is in the process of developing a statewide standard for data privacy and security.

Lockport announced its plans to install a facial recognition system in March 2018.

The program drew backlash from critics who point to studies which find inaccuracies in facial recognition technology, especially for women and people of color.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) last year sent a letter to the New York State Education Department that asked officials to halt the project.

State Assembly Member Monica Wallace (D) has introduced a bill that would effectively force Lockport to stop using the system.

There has been nationwide pushback against facial recognition software.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Washington last week came out against the widespread deployment of facial recognition technology, signaling that they plan to draft legislation that would curb or halt its implementation.

Earlier this month, San Francisco became the first city to ban the technology entirely.