Bill to restrict police use of facial recognition introduced in US Senate
Photo credit: Stephanie Sundier
Bill to restrict police use of facial recognition introduced in US Senate

US Senators Chris Coons and Mike Lee introduced a new bill Thursday that aims to limit federal use of facial recognition technology.

The bill, titled The Facial Recognition Technology Warrant Act of 2019, was introduced in the US Senate in an effort to “make sure that law enforcement has the tools necessary to keep us safe while also protecting fundamental Fourth Amendment privacy rights”, said Coons.

The bill applies only to federal law enforcement agencies and requires them to get a warrant from a judge in order to conduct facial recognition surveillance of an individual when such surveillance lasts for more than 72 hours. It also requires the judge who issued or denied the warrant to report the issuance or denial to the Administrative Office of the US Courts, and it limits the warrant-authorized surveillance to a maximum period of 30 days.

This effort to limit federal use of facial recognition technology comes after a lot of debate on the issue at the state level and internationally. On one side of the debate are proponents of unrestricted governmental use of facial recognition surveillance who argue that such use is necessary for the police to ensure the safety of the people while on the other side opponents of such use argue, inter alia, that this would likely intrude upon the people’s rights of privacy.