New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Tuesday temporarily banning the use of facial recognition in schools, making it the first state to take such a step.
The law suspends facial recognition and other biometric technology in both public and private schools until July 2022, directing the state to conduct a study and issue recommendations about whether the technology is appropriate for schools.
Cuomo’s office said the study will “seek feedback from teachers and parents, as well as experts in school safety, security, data and student privacy issues.”
The law was introduced after privacy groups criticized the Lockport City School District for deploying facial recognition in all K-12 buildings earlier this year, controversial effort the district said was intended to more easily identify sex offenders, unauthorized school staff or other adults that might be dangerous.
While a handful of cities have banned government use of facial recognition, including inside police departments, New York is the first state to ban both public and private schools from using the technology.
New York’s moratorium doesn’t address police use of facial recognition, which is also a concern for civil liberties groups, and it doesn’t ban the technology outright, leaving the possibility that schools could be allowed to use it after the study is completed.
Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Suspending Use and Directing Study of Facial Recognition Technology in Schools [governor.ny.gov – 12/22/20]