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Policy Summary
On November 14, 2019 Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chris Coons (D-MD) introduced in the U.S. Senate the Facial Recognition Technology Warrant Act. This bi – partisan bill introduces limits on how federal agencies can use facial recognition technology. Both senators issued a statement that called the bill a way for American citizens to be “protect[ed] from facial recognition abuse.” Specifically, the bill would require federal law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant if they are to use facial recognition technology to continue to track and monitor a suspected person’s movements in excess of seventy – two (72) hours. LEARN MORE

Analysis
The bill introduced in the U.S. Senate adds a much needed criminal procedure limitation on the use of the still emerging facial recognition  technology but, as ACLU senior legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani said, “The bill falls woefully short of protecting people’s privacy rights.”

While Senators Lee and Coon tried to tout the benefits of the proposed bill a number of criticisms about the bill emerged from numerous interested parties. One issue was that the bill does not prohibit the use of the technology to identify persons. This had been the way the technology had been used by law enforcement authorities. The bill only addresses continued ongoing surveillance of a person, which occurs only after identification by law enforcement. It does not prohibit use of the technology to identify people in real time or through the use of photos like DMV photos. Another issue is that the bill is completely silent on the use of the technology by private companies who want to scan the faces of their customers for use in a commercial and profit – driven context later. The bill also does not mention the use of the technology in public housing units with the growth of the smart home technology market. A previous bill was used to address that specific housing issue but was ignored in the Facial Recognition Technology Warrant Act.

What is significant here is that there are a large number of ways that facial recognition technology can be deployed and used in an invasive and inappropriate manner. This bill only addresses a tiny portion of how to bring facial recognition technology under control and within constitutionally permissible limits. More research needs to be done and a more comprehensive bill needs to be constructed in order to prevent the technology from being used in a manner that goes drastically further than most American citizens will allow in their homes and their communities. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

Photo by unsplash-logoLudvig Wiese

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