New York is the primary state to briefly ban facial recognition in colleges
States and cities have banned facial recognition in government and law enforcement, but that now extends to the classroom as well. New York State has temporarily banned the use of facial recognition and other biometric technology in schools until July 1, 2022, or officials give their use the green light after a study into its privacy, security, and security implications. Forbes noted that this is the first state to block usage.
The State Information Technology Bureau will work with the Education Department to identify, with the involvement of parents and teachers, how the technology affects student privacy and civil liberties. The state is concerned about both data usage and the potential for biasing facial recognition that misidentifies women, children and people of color.
The law that enacted the ban came after the Lockport City School District criticized the use of facial recognition in all K-12 facilities. It was supposed to quickly detect sex offenders, unauthorized personnel, or other possible threats, but opponents saw it as an attack on privacy and freedom, using children as test subjects. For example, it could be used to punish children for minor violations.
It is relatively easy for New York to suspend use during a pandemic when students often have to wear masks or study at home. However, this could set a precedent leading other states to ban or restrict facial recognition in schools even if it is safe to resume normal classes.