Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo believes facial recognition in schools must be studied further to ensure privacy is protected, according to a spokesperson for the governor's office.
"This issue needs to be explored further as we seek to balance safety and privacy of our schoolchildren, especially in respect to these new and emerging technologies to avoid issues of bias and serious concerns regarding data storage," Don Kaplan, a spokesperson for Cuomo's office wrote.
Cuomo's press office was asked whether the governor supported Assembly member Monica Wallace's bill to impose a one-year ban on facial recognition in schools and ask the state education commissioner to perform a study on facial recognition in schools, but it did not respond to that question.
The Lockport City School District used $1.4 million of the $4.2 million allocated to it through New York’s Smart Schools Bond Act to install one of the first facial and object security surveillance systems in an American school. The district’s system will rely on the Aegis software suite, created by Canadian-based SN Technologies. The software works by using a database of individuals and sending an alert to district personnel when a flagged person is detected on school property. The software reportedly also will detect 10 types of guns.
The district’s security plan has attracted attention from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which last year sent a letter to the New York State Department of Education, asking officials there to halt the project. The NYCLU has also asked the state legislature to do the same.
Lockport school district officials announced their intentions, on Tuesday, to begin the "initial implementation phase" for the system today. District officials plan to assess camera angles and lighting as well as perform some training.
The New York State Education Department intervened on Thursday, asking the district to delay the testing of the facial and object recognition Aegis software suite, and eventually LCSD agreed to delay the testing of the software.