After announcing that they were testing a $1.4 million security system with facial recognition, the New York State Education Department has banned the Lockport City School District from using or testing facial recognition. Michele T. Bradley, the district’s superintendent, said that the Education Department had concerns about student privacy which had previously delayed testing in late May, according to an article from The Buffalo News.
Kevin Freiberger, Director of Identity Programs at Valid, spoke to Security Baron regarding best practices for usage of facial recognition technology in the public sector, schools in particular. The majority of the time, schools want this technology to use for time and attendance as well as access into the school buildings themselves. Valid, which provides identity solutions such as drivers licenses and IDs for state and local governments, also manufactures its own facial recognition technology. Their storage separates the biometric data from any identifiable information, and there is no way to reverse-engineer binary code to re-create a photograph, Freiberger says. He continues,
“If the biometric databases get compromised, nothing is identifiable. This is a best practice for all facial recognition technology, especially used in the public sector.”
Freiberger believes that Lockport City School district stopped testing of facial recognition technology primarily because of “perception and politics”. People may not trust that their vendor is going to handle the data safely, and facial recognition has gotten a lot of bad press recently, he said. “It’s not a popular technology right now,” Freiberger told Security Baron.
Amazon and Facial Recognition
Last winter, Amazon patented facial recognition technology that is meant to create a neighborhood network of suspicious persons, comparing subjects to criminal or “most wanted” databases. Using footage from their security cameras and video doorbells, users could flag suspicious persons and upload them into the network, receiving alerts about them regardless of whether they’re in the criminal database or not. Amazon and other large companies like Google and Microsoft have made facial recognition technology more affordable, which is already leading to more widespread usage.