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New York Schools Advised Against Facial Recognition Use Due to Privacy Concerns

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In light of potential violations of students’ privacy and civil rights, the New York State Education Department has announced a prohibition on the widespread use of facial recognition technology in educational institutions.

This decision was prompted by a recent report, sponsored by the state, which delved into the ramifications of using such technology within schools. The investigation spanned 12 facets of its application, including its impact on civil rights, its precision, and its overall efficacy.

Several schools had contemplated deploying this technology for purposes like monitoring attendance and enhancing security. The report stated, “Although facial recognition technology can offer advantages in a school environment, the in-depth research for this report highlights significant potential pitfalls. The inherent dangers might overshadow the noted advantages. Given the ongoing evolution of this technology, schools should continually reassess their stance on its use.”

A significant concern highlighted in the report is the technology’s potential to infringe on students’ civil rights. It was noted that facial recognition might show biases, resulting in higher false positive rates for individuals of color, nonbinary and transgender persons, women, seniors, and young children.

This recent study echoes the sentiments of a 2020 research project from the University of Michigan, which advocated for a stringent restriction on facial recognition technology in schools. The university’s findings underscored the technology’s potential to amplify racial biases, normalize a culture of surveillance, and pose data-related threats.

The University of Michigan’s research concluded with a stark recommendation: “Our assessment leads us to firmly advise against the use of this technology in schools. If, however, educational institutions or regulatory bodies choose to embrace facial recognition, it is imperative that they do so judiciously, backed by extensive consultations with experts and the public, especially marginalized communities. A comprehensive regulatory framework is essential, which prioritizes the socio-ethical implications of the technology over mere technical accuracy.”

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