Facial recognition technology can take security to greater heights, and within the walls of academic institutions, this ensures lesser crimes and threats from beyond the school grounds. But what if the other way around happens, particularly when the law does not support these technologies?

According to CNET, a lawsuit is around the corner against the New York State Education Department looking to scrutinize on a $3 million worth of facial recognition systems in the state's academic institutions. The reason for the probable lawsuit is student privacy concerns and issues with gender and race.  

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NY schools facing possible lawsuit
(Photo : Monika Kozub / Unsplash)
This is in lieu of the facial recognition systems that may threaten privacy of students.

Facial recognition issues

On Monday, the education department was sued by the New York Civil Liberties Union over the approval to install facial recognition at the Lockport School District, one of the first public school systems in the United States that use this type of technology for the students and teachers. 

The department pushed for approval of this system last November, and activated in January, CNET's Alfred Ng wrote.

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Tech Times can obtain a copy of the lawsuit. This has been filed on behalf of parents of students from Lockport who argued that the facial recognition systems are breaching their privacy, since the system retains the biometric data of these students, thus violating the privacy protections of the state under the education law. 

In the law, the education department originally enacted and implemented facial recognition for the schools since it believed this platform will protect the privacy of students. 

Parents call

Parents of students at Lockport and NYCLU want to dismantle and deactivated the system. They pleaded with the education department. However, government officials concerned have not commented yet on the pending litigation. 

One of the parents, Jim Shultz, and the plaintiff said, "The Lockport facial recognition surveillance system was the product of a Board of Education falling for the sweet talk of a salesman who misrepresented himself as an independent security expert. Neither the school district or state education officials gave a thought to the radical impact this would have on student privacy."

The use of technology

Academic institutions have turned to technology as a solution to the safety of students. They have utilized these tools, including social media monitoring, to identify potential threats. Some companies offer facial recognition, which marketed these platforms to detect infiltrations and stop the shooting threats. 

Schools superintendent in Lockport, Michelle Bradly spoke with parents, letting them know they are installing the facial recognition technology to prevent the 2019 school shootings, and that the district is spending approximately $3 million on upgrading the security, nearly half will be spent for facial recognition. The finances will be sourced out from the Smart Schools Bond Act in New York. 

"In court documents, parents expressed frustration that the school district spent millions on facial recognition rather than on funds to help students connect online during the coronavirus pandemic," Ng added in the report.

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