A Colorado state Senate panel has advanced a bill that would dramatically limit the scope of public facial recognition programs in the state. Bill 22-113 would ban the use of facial recognition in schools until 2025, and create much more oversight for government and law enforcement agencies that want to use the technology.
In that regard, the bill states that the police cannot use facial recognition to establish probable cause, and cannot use facial recognition to create a record of someone who is engaged in actions (such as the right to assembly) that are guaranteed under the first amendment. They are also barred from using facial recognition to match someone to a police sketch, and must ask for permission before engaging in any real-time tracking activities.
On the government front, any department that wants to use facial recognition would need to file an accountability report that explains what technology they plan to use, and what they plan to use it for. Any decisions made with automated tech must be subject to human review, while the technology itself must be tested to make sure it is accurate.
The Bill then goes on to establish a new Task Force for the Consideration of Artificial Intelligence. The Task Force would be responsible for overseeing the use of facial recognition in the state, and would be expected to offer policy advice to help shape new facial recognition legislation in the future. For example, the state could allow facial recognition in schools with certain guardrails after the proposed restriction expires in 2025.
Colorado lawmakers stressed that they are not trying to ban facial recognition technology, and that the Bill is instead intended to ensure that facial recognition gets used in a safe and constructive fashion. They expressed particular concern about the threat of racial bias, noting that many facial recognition systems are less accurate when applied to people of color, and that the teams developing those systems often do not reflect the true diversity of the population.
“This is not about prohibition,” said Colorado State Senator Chris Hansen. “It’s really about carefully considering the use and making sure we’re getting the right results and have the human review.”
The Bill has the unanimous approval of the Senate panel, though it did face opposition from special interest groups during the committee phase. Law enforcement organizations believe that the bill is too restrictive, while the Security Industry Association spoke out against the ban in schools, and argued that the vague language would discourage even valid uses of the technology. There is also some concern that the bill would curtail the operations of third-party testing facilities, which is notable since iBeta’s lab is located in Denver.
The Colorado Task Force would meet every four months before dissolving in 2032. The Bill itself in keeping with the broader trend of facial recognition legislation across the country.
Sources: The Gazette, The Denver Channel
March 2, 2022 – by Eric Weiss