The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the New York State Education Department (NYSED) for its harmful decision to approve a facial recognition technology system for use in Lockport City Schools, in violation of student data protection laws. Filed on behalf of Lockport parents Jim Shultz and Renee Cheatham, the lawsuit challenges the decision by NYSED to allow Lockport’s facial recognition system to be activated.
The Lockport facial recognition system engages in real-time collection, analysis, and retention of biometric information from each child in Lockport’s schools, which include children as young as 5-years old. The collection and analysis of sensitive student data should require the District to comply with provisions of New York’s Education Law that afford a high level of security to personally identifiable information. Students' faces are continuously scanned by the system to see if they match any of the photos in the school's "Hot List" of people not allowed on school grounds. The data from the system is maintained for at least 60 days, according to the district's policy, and there are several carve-outs that allow for these images to be stored for even longer. There is also a risk that students, parents, or staff will be misidentified as people on the Hot List or that the stored information could be accessed by hackers.
The lawsuit aims to have NYSED's approval of the system vacated and revoked, and have NYSED direct Lockport to deactivate its facial recognition system.