On December 22, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed law temporarily prohibiting the use or purchase of facial recognition and other biometric identification technologies in public and private schools until at least July 1, 2022. The act also governs the New York Education Commissioner (the “Commissioner”), who conducts a study to determine whether this technology is suitable for use in schools.
In his press release, Governor Cuomo indicated that the legislation comes after concerns about potential risks to students were raised, including issues related to technology misidentification and security and privacy concerns. “This legislation requires state education policymakers to step back, consult experts, and resolve privacy issues before deciding whether any type of biometric identification technology can be brought into New York schools. The safety of our children is of paramount importance to all parents and whether or not to use this technology is not an easy decision, ”said the governor.
Key elements of the legislation include:
- Define “face recognition” as “any tool that uses an automated or semi-automated process that helps uniquely identify or verify a person by comparing and analyzing patterns based on the person’s face” and “biometric identification technology” as “any tool that uses an” automated or semi-automated process that assists in verifying an individual’s identity against an individual’s biometric information “;
- Prohibit the purchase and use of facial recognition and other biometric identification technology in all public and private elementary and secondary schools until July 1, 2022, or until the Commissioner approves the purchase and use of this technology, whichever occurs later; and
- Instructing the Commissioner, in consultation with the New York Bureau of Information Technology, the Department of Criminal Justice, the Chief Privacy Officer of the Department of Education, and other stakeholders to conduct a study and make recommendations on the circumstances in which facial recognition and other biometric identification technologies occur suitable for the Use in schools and what restrictions and guidelines should be issued to protect privacy, civil rights, and the interests of civil liberties.
The signing by Governor Cuomo comes after the New York Legislature passed the legislation in July 2020. Read the signed New York Convention and Senate bills.