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NYCLU Statement on Lockport School District’s Implementation of Facial Recognition Technology

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LOCKPORT, NY ‒ The Lockport City School District near Buffalo, New York announced earlier this week that they would begin testing facial recognition technology in their schools starting on Monday June 3.
The New York Civil Liberties Union is concerned about the risks to privacy and civil rights posed by this technology, particularly in the school context. The NYCLU first wrote to both the district and the New York State Education Department in June 2018, urging the district to reconsider the use of this technology. NYSED responded by requiring the district to undergo a privacy assessment. Today, NYSED said in a statement that the district did not have permission to begin using the technology and has not adequately prepared to protect the data. 
Statewide legislation (A6787/S5140) was introduced in March 2019 to require a study of the impact of this technology in schools and put a moratorium on districts installing the software. 
The following statement is attributable to Stefanie Coyle, education counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union: 
“The Lockport School District has barreled ahead with implementing invasive surveillance technology in its schools with little regard for student privacy and civil rights. We are glad to see that NYSED is reining in the district, but it is crystal clear that the state must step in and ensure that inaccurate, biased, and potentially dangerous technology is not imposed on students, teachers, and parents without due consideration of its effects. This technology does not belong in schools.”
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