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Washington State Signs Facial Recognition Curbs Into Law; Critics Want Ban

By Reuters

April 1, 2020

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Washington State Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed the first U.S. state law curbing law enforcement's use of facial recognition technology, but civil rights advocates are urging instead an outright ban, to ensure protection for marginalized groups.

Under the law, government agencies must secure a warrant to run facial recognition scans, except in emergency situations.

The software used also has to be independently tested for "accuracy and unfair performance differences" across skin tone, gender, age, and other traits; training and public disclosure on usage of facial recognition is mandated as well.

The legislation was sponsored by Washington State Sen. Joe Nguyen, a senior program manager at Microsoft. Microsoft is opposed to a ban; company president Brad Smith said the statute creates civil liberty safeguards while preserving public safety benefits, as when governments use facial recognition to find missing people.

From Reuters
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