State Legislation to Curtail Facial Recognition Technology

facial recognition

The Security Industry Association (SIA) is monitoring legislation in Washington (WA HB 1654* and SB 5528) that would place a temporary restriction on the use of facial recognition systems by state, local and municipal agencies, making it unlawful for any government agency or official to acquire, possess, access or use any “biometric surveillance system, or use information derived from a similar system operated by another entity for any purpose, including current criminal and civil proceedings.

The legislation would also instruct an independent third-party entity to test and audit such systems for any bias regarding race, ethnicity, gender or age of the individuals portrayed in probe images. Further, government agencies would be prohibited from using facial recognition until the Washington legislature convenes a task force to publish a report detailing the “potential consequences of government use of facial recognition systems.”

No time frame for completing these actions is specified. Since both requirements would be time-consuming  endeavors, the use of facial recognition systems in almost any regard by state and local entities would likely be suspended for an indeterminate amount of time.

Many stakeholders believe disruption of these programs and uses would be premature without further analysis and review and evidence of abuse. Use of facial recognition technology increasingly supports many public safety and other beneficial uses, and strict adherence to a comprehensive use policy that mitigates privacy impact is a common best practice.

Similar legislation has been introduced in Massachusetts (MA SD 671), New York (NY A 1692), Connecticut, (CT HB 5333), Texas (TX SB 485), Oregon (OR SB 284) and New Hampshire (NH HB 536) that would limit the use of facial recognition systems or the collection of biometric information by public and private entities. SIA is monitoring all bills in question and will take action where appropriate.

Track Legislation That Matters to You

SIA’s Security Policy Brief is an online, interactive tracking tool helps you follow legislation and its progress at both federal and state levels. You can search for and follow topics (e.g., biometrics) or track legislation by state. All bills listed have been identified by SIA’s government relations team as having potential impact on the security industry.

All employees of SIA member companies can access this tracking tool. (Don’t have an account? Create one here.)

Access the Security Policy Brief.

*WA HB 1654 was recently amended to prohibit law enforcement officers from utilizing the results of a facial recognition system as the sole basis to establish probable cause in a criminal investigation; however, the results may be used in conjunction with other information and evidence obtained by a law enforcement officer to establish probable cause in a criminal investigation.