Facial Recognition in Montana

Tanner Avery

Director of The Center for New Frontiers

Tanner Avery
/ Blog
October 7, 2021

Facial Recognition in Montana

Several Montana agencies have confirmed the use of facial recognition. But the full extent to which the technology is being used is still unclear.

“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.” – Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1928

During last month’s meeting, the Montana State Legislature’s Interim Committee on Economic Affairs discussed its plan for a study on the use of Facial Recognition Technology. Facial recognition technology is a method of verifying an individual’s identity by measuring unique facial features such as “distance between the eyes or shape of the chin” and then converts those measurements into unique biometric data, similar to a fingerprint. This verification process can be facilitated through photos, video, or in real time.

Federal, state, and local government agencies have begun widespread use of facial recognition. There is little to no oversight as to the use of this technology, creating a scenario in which the likelihood of abuse is nearly inevitable. While law enforcement officers need either a warrant or probable cause to secure an individual’s fingerprint (Hayes v. Florida), there are no protections for an individual’s unique biometric facial features.

In recent years, law enforcement have even begun to use facial recognition to scan social media accounts of law abiding citizens. Even those without social media are not safe from potential infringements as law enforcement agencies have been documented using footage in real time to identify and track people in public places.

Several Montana agencies have confirmed the use of facial recognition, however it is unclear the full extent to which the technology is being used. Kendall Cotton, Frontier Institute’s President and CEO, encouraged the interim committee to learn the extent to which the technology is being used by Montana agencies, for what purpose it is being used, how that data is stored, and how it is shared between agencies.

For Liberty,

Tanner Avery

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