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Lawmakers, school officials meet over facial recognition technology in schools

Students in classroom
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Economic Affairs Interim Committee met with a school district that has put in place facial recognition technology, and leading public school associations and agencies.

State lawmakers studying facial recognition technology expressed concerns about student privacy when the tech is used in schools.

The state Economic Affairs Interim Committee Monday met with a school district that's using facial recognition technology, and leading public school associations and agencies.

Kris Goss, director of Policy Services for the Montana School Board Association, told lawmakers that there are not specific laws that guide facial recognition in schools, but companies must follow more general privacy policies outlined in state and federal laws.

“Compliance means business," Goss said. "And I think this issue of student privacy is on the minds of all of us who advise school districts on a legal basis."

Democratic House Rep. Katie Sullivan pointed out the security trade-off this kind of technology requires.

“We get that this technology is useful for safety, right? At the same time, there’s a safety aspect where the kids’ data is being used by a company. Right? And who is that? And are they being appropriate?” she said.

Committee Chair Senator Kenneth Bogner says members will be introducing individual legislation about this technology in the upcoming session.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio

Kathleen Shannon is a reporter with Montana Public Radio.