NYS Education department blocks testing of facial recognition software

Local News

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — The New York State Education Department has blocked the testing of facial recognition software in Lockport schools.

This comes just weeks after the Lockport City School District was set to start testing the Aegis system. The superintendent says only certain people would be entered into the system such as suspended or expelled students and sex offenders.

In a statement Friday, the State Education Department says their staff has consistently told the district they shouldn’t use facial recognition technology, until the state is “satisfied that proper protocols and protections are in place.”

The New York Civil Liberties Union says it’s an invasion of privacy.

“It invades the privacy rights of students and families and teachers and community members. Basically anyone that goes into a school system is going to have their image and their facial geometry scanned. We also have concerns that this sort of highly sensitive information is vulnerable to hacking,” said Stefanie Coyle, education counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Lockport City School District responded to the State’s decision Friday, saying in a statement:

“The Lockport City School District understands the position of the New York State Education Department and looks forward to continuing the interactive dialogue process with the Department.”

The district says it looks forward to continuing conversations with the State Education Department. It’s not clear when the district will be able to start testing the facial recognition software.

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