Parents’ Lawsuit Over Lockport Facial Recognition System Ends | Education


Emmett Belknap Middle School is one of the schools in Lockport that had a new high-tech security system.

Buffalo News Photo File

An Albany judge this week ruled that a lawsuit filed by some Lockport parents over the facial recognition security system in public schools was invalid because the state passed a law banning such systems.

The lawsuit argued that the state’s education ministry’s approval of the system’s use in November 2019 was inappropriate, but state Supreme Court judge James H. Ferreira did not was not interested in pursuing the case.

In a nine-page decision, Ferreira said the approval was overturned when former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a law in December 2020 banning the use of facial recognition technology in schools.

The ban, which was imposed six months after the complaint was filed, is in effect until the Education Department completes a study into privacy issues related to their use, or until July 1. 2022, whichever is later.

This law forced Lockport to shut down its system, which involved 300 digital cameras in neighborhood buildings and image scanning software sold by a Canadian company, SN Technologies.

Ferreira said that when the state study is released, the issue of facial recognition systems will be analyzed within a newly created legal framework.

He also said there was no indication that student data collected by the system is not protected from disclosure by applicable laws. The Education Department has ordered Lockport not to collect such data.

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