FRONTIER INSTITUTE COMMENT: HJ 48 STUDY OF FACIAL RECOGNITION 4.20.22
THE FOLLOWING IS A FORMAL COMMENT PROVIDED BY THE FRONTIER INSTITUTE IN REGARD TO THE HJ 48 STUDY OF FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY
April 20, 2022
Economic Affairs Interim Committee
RE: HJ 48 Study of Facial Recognition
Dear Chairman and Committee Members,
Frontier Institute would like to extend our appreciation to the committee for your hard work digging into this important subject. As this committee considers legislative action on government use of facial recognition technology, we applaud the sentiments expressed by members of this committee that Montana should chart our own path with balanced reforms, instead of following the all-or-nothing approaches taken by other states and cities.
Allowing Montana’s government to take advantage of facial recognition technology’s benefits without sacrificing the privacy rights we hold dear should be the top priority of this committee.
Frontier Institute believes the following areas deserve special attention of the committee as posing the most risk to Montanans’ privacy:
- Law enforcement access to closed-source photo databases
Law-abiding Montanans who apply for government benefits, receive a driver’s license, or post a photo privately to social media should feel secure that their photos will not be subject to unreasonable facial recognition searches by law enforcement. Especially concerning is the prospect of criminal investigations which utilize facial recognition searches of closed-source photo databases like the driver’s license database, ID.me or private photos scraped from the web. These closed-source photo databases are filled primarily with photos of law-abiding citizens that are not from publicly available sources, and as such should receive protections from unreasonable law enforcement searches.
We are less concerned about criminal investigations which utilize facial recognition searches that draw from open-source photo databases, such as photos that are publicly posted on facebook, on a website etc. or facial recognition searches which match suspect photos to criminal photo databases.
- Law enforcement use of continuous surveillance
Continuous facial recognition using footage captured or recorded by surveillance cameras to identify anyone who walks by, like that used by China to enforce dystopian social credit scores, is likely the most concerning use of government facial recognition technology from a privacy standpoint and should face the highest legal standards prior to deployment. This type of general surveillance should only be used in a discreet, targeted basis to identify individuals who are suspected of a crime, and only in the most urgent scenarios.
Thank you again to the committee for your dedication to protecting Montanans’ privacy. Frontier Institute stands ready to assist you as you consider policy options.
President and CEO