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NY halts use of facial recognition tech in schools

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FILE - In this July 10, 2018 file photo, a camera with facial recognition capabilities hangs from a wall during installation at Lockport High School in Lockport, N.Y. The New York Legislature has passed a two-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition in schools. The ban approved Wednesday, July 22, 2020, follows an upstate district's adoption of the technology as part of its security plans, and a lawsuit by civil rights advocates challenging the decision. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson, File)

(WHAM) - Legislation has been into law suspending any use of facial recognition or biometric technology in schools in New York state for at least 18 months.

The law, which passed by the Assembly and Senate, was signed Tuesday by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Under the law, no schools can purchase facial recognition or biometric technology systems until at least July 1, 2022. This applies to both public and private schools.

Concerns have been raised about possible risks for students, including young people, women, and people of color being misidentified by the software at high rates. The security of the biometric data and student privacy are also at issue.

In the interim, the state's Office of Information Technology and Education Department will study how appropriate the technology is to be used in schools and issue a report with recommendations.

"Facial recognition technology could provide a host of benefits to New Yorkers, but its use brings up serious and legitimate privacy concerns that we have to examine, especially in schools," Cuomo said.

Once the IT and Education Departments complete the report, it will be reviewed by the State Education Commissioner, who will decide whether to authorize the use of technologies in schools.

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