New York legislature bans use of facial recognition technology in schools

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New York’s state legislature voted to pause the use of facial recognition at schools for two years.

The moratorium, approved by both the state Assembly and Senate on Wednesday, follows an attempt by a school district in upstate New York to install the controversial technology at its schools.

The legislation comes after the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit forcing the state education department to block Lockport school district from adopting facial recognition systems to screen people entering campuses.

The bill will now be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) desk.

Privacy advocates have celebrated its passage.

“We’ve said for years that facial recognition and other biometric surveillance technologies have no place in schools, and this is a monumental leap forward to protect students from this kind of invasive surveillance,” NYCLU Education Policy Center Deputy Director Stefanie Coyle said in a statement.

“Schools should be an environment where children can learn and grow, and the presence of a flawed and racially-biased system constantly monitoring students makes that impossible.”

Facial recognition has come under renewed scrutiny in recent months as nationwide protests against police brutality launched by the death George Floyd continue.

Tech giants like Amazon, IBM and Microsoft have scaled back their sales of the software to law enforcement in response, while legislation to place a nationwide federal moratorium is also gaining momentum.

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