A report by the state’s Office of Information Technology Services found that the risks associated with using facial recognition technology in schools outweigh the benefits of the biometrics tool, and that teachers should be cautious about its use.

The report, prepared with the assistance of the state Department of Education and released earlier this month, examined the use of “biometric identification technology” – where physical characteristics including facial recognition and fingerprints are used for security, in schools. Can be done for administrative or classroom purposes. ,

State Education Commissioner, Betty A. ROSA will consider the report and its recommendations in determining whether to authorize the purchase or use of technology in public schools. The Department for Education said a decision would be made in the next few weeks.

Long Island teachers are skeptical about the technology being used on students here.

what to know

  • Risks associated with using facial recognition A recent report found that technology in schools far outweighs the benefits of biometrics tools, and that teachers should be cautious about its use.
  • State Education Commissioner will consider The report and its recommendations in determining whether to authorize the purchase or use of biometric identification technology in public schools.
  • Long Island teachers are skeptical Technology will be used in relation to the students.

“Biometric scanning can be beneficial if [schools] Trying to track employees in and out of a building or for automated processes like payroll, but when it comes to safety and security, facial recognition for students, and managing building security, I see the same concerns. I share the detailed report. And until the technology improves, I would be cautious moving forward,” said Robert Vecchio, executive director of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association.

The use of facial and object-recognition technology in schools came under scrutiny in 2020 when the Lockport City District in western New York began using it in security cameras. The then government. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a law moratorium on the system while the state studied its effects.

The Office of Information Technology Services gathered feedback from teachers, school administrators, and parents, as well as individuals with expertise in school security, data privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights, for more than a year to prepare the report.

Facial recognition technology can identify or confirm a person using their face through security cameras. That identification can then be matched against a database of stored images. According to news reports, the technology has been used or considered in school systems elsewhere across the country, including in Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kansas.

At a state public hearing in October, proponents said the technology could be used as a security tool, with a security group official saying it would count security staff against a list of people banned from entering the building. Can help in screening visitors.

A survey included in the report found that a majority of respondents – mainly school representatives – said that there are no benefits or that the risks outweigh the benefits of using biometric technology. Many said that they did not see any specific situation in which biometric technology should be allowed in schools.

Sean Kaplan, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Ethics and Public Policy Program at Adelphi University, has studied and written on the use of facial recognition technology and the risks associated with such surveillance. He agreed with the report’s findings and said it was unclear whether the technology would enhance security.

“Given that a large number of incidents of violence are committed by current students who are not on any of the lists barring them from admission, this method will not be helpful in that regard,” he added.

The New York law would give schools significant leeway in sharing with third parties data collected from students’ facial biometrics and surveillance. This raises significant privacy concerns, Kaplan said.

The report said that facial recognition technology could affect the civil rights of students. The system “is, at its core, an automated decision-making process traditionally performed by humans,” it read. “Given the potentially higher rate of false positives for people of color, non-binary and trans people, women, the elderly, and children, the use of FRT [facial recognition technology] Civil rights laws may apply to schools for security purposes.”

Kaplan agreed. He said that although such technology has improved, it still has flaws. “It can have some significant negative consequences for students,” he said.

Such systems can also be expensive. Reportedly, the cost of Lockport is approximately $1.4 million.

But the report found that benefits can be found for one-to-one use. For example, a student could use facial recognition technology to unlock a device such as an iPad instead of having to use and remember a password.

Those uses should be left to local agencies to decide, the report found.

David Wicks, superintendent of Eastern Suffolk BOCES, said local systems stopped discussing such technology when the state banned it. He hopes that schools will be cautious about moving forward with it if the use is approved – if they even do.

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