State law proposed in Michigan Senate to ban use of facial biometrics by law enforcement

The Michigan Senate is considering a bill which would ban the use of biometric facial recognition by law enforcement in the state, according to The Libertarian Institute.

SB342 was introduced by Sen. Peter Lucido (R), which would impose a broad ban on law enforcement officials obtaining, accessing, or using facial recognition technology, or any information gathered with the technology. The bill defines any such use as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, as well as section 11 or Article I of the state constitution.

The bill may be a response to the recent budget proposal by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, which includes $562,500 for improvements to the search capabilities of the State Police’s facial recognition system, as reported by GovTech. MSP’s Statewide Network of Agency Photos (SNAP) holds nearly 50 million facial images, including all driver’s license images collected by the Secretary of State’s Office. There are approximately 8 million adults in Michigan.

The Michigan chapter of the ACLU says that people should be concerned about the database, and a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office said notice procedures for data sharing are being considered. An MSP spokesperson said that facial recognition is never used to positively identify a suspect, and that the new funds would be used to upgrade the six-year-old algorithm for better speed and accuracy.

The Libertarian Institute says federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are working together to build a national facial recognition system, and notes that the FBI rolled out its national facial recognition program in 2014. The report also points out that federal grant money is often used by local law enforcement agencies to purchase surveillance equipment, including ALPRs, stingrays, and drones, and also encourages information sharing through its fusion centers and Information Sharing Environment (ISE).

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety for approval.

Industry groups have slammed San Francisco’s decision to ban most facial recognition use by law enforcement and government agencies in the city, and a proposed law to require notice of the use of public facial recognition in Washington State failed to reach a vote in the lower state house by the deadline last month.

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