MT lawmakers debate draft restrictions on facial recognition

HELENA — On Tuesday, a Montana legislative committee reported the state wants to do one thing to answer to the growth of facial recognition technologies – but customers are not still on the identical webpage about what that really should be.

The Financial Affairs Interim Committee has been using testimony and collecting information on the potential benefits and pitfalls of facial recognition for months, as aspect of a examine the Legislature assigned them final yr. At a Tuesday meeting, they debated how – and no matter whether – point out and nearby governments really should be in a position to use facial recognition data.

The committee looked at 1 first draft invoice, which would prohibit point out and neighborhood governments from employing facial recognition systems, except to investigate a serious crime or a missing or endangered human being, or to establish a person who has died. Regulation enforcement would also have to get a warrant or court docket purchase in get to look for the program.

The draft would also need 3rd-celebration facial recognition suppliers contracting with governments to routinely demolish information following it is used, and it would mandate that state and area agencies have “meaningful human review” just before generating any last conclusions dependent on that details.

The proposed bill would give the Montana Section of Justice, Department of Corrections and Department of Labor and Marketplace exemptions to continue their existing contracts with facial recognition devices. For example, the DOJ’s Motor Auto Division has a contract with the business IDEMIA, supposed to avert id theft in driver’s license purposes by evaluating the new image to the aged photograph.

“Attorney Normal Knudsen respects Montanans’ appropriate to privacy and does not imagine in the unlimited use of facial recognition technological know-how,” a DOJ spokesperson said in a assertion to MTN. “Our agency will work inside the recommendations set by the Legislature.”

Leaders with the Montana Office of Labor and Business say they use the ID.me provider for fraud avoidance in unemployment insurance policies apps.

Rep. Katie Sullivan, D-Missoula, said this proposal was only a 1st draft and supposed to strike a equilibrium.

“I seriously take pleasure in everyone’s aid with this, and I hope that we can variety of make your mind up where by we want to go from in this article – straddling the fence, if you will, involving privateness rights and investigating crime,” she said.

But various lawmakers mentioned they nevertheless experienced critical privateness concerns about any use of facial recognition technological know-how, and they favored a lot stricter laws.

“Are we inclined to give up our flexibility for that protection, for the point out of Montana?” requested Rep. Mark Noland, R-Bigfork. “I want the point out of Montana to be distinct than the rest of the states. We really do not need to have this.”

Noland reported he favored placing aside the recent draft and instead proposing a full moratorium on facial recognition technology in the point out.

Sen. Ken Bogner, R-Miles Town, mentioned he preferred to continue to keep a draft like the recent 1, so they can provide it to the Legislature as least suggestions, in circumstance a more robust monthly bill cannot go.

“We need to have to arrive up with something we all can concur on, or as near to as possible, that we sense the relaxation of the Legislature can support, just so we have people sideboards,” Bogner reported.

For the duration of the meeting, E.J. Redding spoke on behalf of Clearview AI – a company that has received national attention and scrutiny as a single of the largest facial recognition databases. Redding claimed Clearview is not operating in Montana, but they are intently viewing to see what the Legislature does.

“This is emerging and new technological know-how,” he claimed. “It’s modifying every working day, it is improving each day, and the last point that we would like to see is tying the palms of law enforcement to use an rising technologies in a time when there is much more crime, more chances, a lot more want for investigatory instruments to place poor men absent.”

The committee ideas to keep numerous a lot more conferences on this situation right before the conclusion of the calendar year, in hopes of finalizing a proposal that they can existing to the total Legislature in the course of the 2023 session.