Biometrics Coming to a New York School Near You

Will NY Teacher Unions Support This?

by Michael Kane

Research contribution from Danielle Tauriello

8-29-21

New York State is on a path to bring biometric identification and tracking systems into public and private school buildings as early as 2022. This includes facial recognition, retina scans, tracking devices, biometric digital identity, blockchain technology and much more. Unfortunately it is unclear if our teacher unions will be supporting this “brave new” endevour or if they will protect the fundamental rights of teachers and students. Additionally even if New York teacher unions say they will not suppport biometric systems in our schools, can we trust them?

More and more our unions are looking like nothing more than a partner with the biosecurity state. New York union bosses Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew stated they did not support mandatory vaccination of educators, and look where we are today! Both flip-flopped their positions and now TEACHERS FOR CHOICE and our supporters are desperately fighing against forced COVID vaccination to keep our jobs in New York City.

On February 1st I published a report titled Is NYC Headed For Biometric Digital Student Passports? Digital Identity and the Gamification of Education, where I predicted that NYC will soon be introducing a biometric digital passport for students to attend school. Now Daneille Tauriello, a Long Island teacher and TEACHER FOR CHOICE member, has discovered an addition to the education law in New York that will begin the process of bringing digital biometric systems into all New York Schools. This law was passed long before the COVID crisis began, and calls for the discussion to begin in January of 2022 regarding bringing biometric technology into New York schools.

In Article 1 of the consolodated education laws of New York State, there is Section 2-E, Use of biometric identifying technology:

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/EDN/2-E

All New York State teacher unions supported this addition to the law through the lobbying efforts of NYSUT. On May 21st, UFT’s General Counsel had the following response to TEACHER FOR CHOICE inquiries about the law:

… regarding biometric systems in schools, the law in question, which was supported by the UFT through NYSUT, actually  prohibits all public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools from purchasing and utilizing biometric identifying technology for any purpose, including school security, until the commissioner is able to conduct a thorough analysis of the issues including privacy implications for students, teachers and the general public; the potential impact on civil liberties; the effectiveness of the technology for purposes of security; whether and under what circumstances the information gathered may be shared; the length of time such information may be stored; and the risk of an unauthorized breach. Further, the UFT has consistently maintained the position that the use of any such technology (e.g., retina scans) is subject to bargaining and we have never permitted the use of such technology with any of our members.”

The UFT has never allowed for any of their members to be force vaccinated before either.

Until they did.

There is good in UFT’s response, and there is bad.

In New York the politicians are not required to hold any hearings at all to pass a law. We saw a horrendous example of this on June 13, 2019, when the repeal of the religious exemption to vaccination for children was voted on in committee, sent to a floor vote, passed, sent to Cuomo and signed in just 7 hours with not a single public comment. In fact the New York Senate had their doors locked and shuttered during the process, barring any public witness to what was happening. Michael Sussman is the lead attorney suing the state of New York over this illegal repeal. Sussman also happens to be one of TEACHERS FOR CHOICE’s attorneys.

So one way of looking at this is that by supporting the aforementioned legislation NYSUT is ensuring such a swift and sneaky process could not be replicated to bring biometric systems into school buildings.

That’s one way of looking at it.

On the other hand, why isn’t NYSUT standing in vehement opposition to bringing any biometric systems into our schools at all? Why is it even a question to consider and waste time investigating? I believe NYSUT, UFT & AFT’s position on this should be as follows:

“HELL NO! WE NEVER NEED THIS TECHNOLOGY IN OUR SCHOOLS. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION!”

It is critical that all New York educators and parents become very vocal and hyper vigilant against any-and-all digital biometric identification technologies in schools, as well as any “wearable” technology.

In 2018 the brave teachers of West Virginia went on strike when they were being forced to wear Fitbits to monitor their daily activities to determine their medical insurance premiums. They fought and won, pushing back this government over-reach of the biosecurity state.

Today the military is mandating wearable tech in the Air Force:

The military is currently being used to pilot COVID-19–related biometric wearables for “returning to work safely.” Last December, it was announced that Hill Air Force Base in Utah would make biometric wearables a mandatory part of the uniform for some squadrons. For example, the airmen of the Air Force’s 649th Munitions Squadron must now wear a smart watch made by Garmin and a smart ring made by Oura as part of their uniform.

According to the Air Force, these devices detect biometric indicators that are then analyzed for 165 different biomarkers by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency/Philips Healthcare AI algorithm that “attempts to recognize an infection or virus around 48 hours before the onset of symptoms.” The development of that algorithm began well before the COVID-19 crisis and is a recent iteration of a series of military research projects that appear to have begun under the 2007 DARPA Predicting Health and Disease (PHD) project.

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