washington capitol

Washington State Adopts Legislation Regulating, Restricting Facial Recognition Use

The law, which will go into effect next year, will require law enforcement to use facial recognition software only to investigate serious crimes and issue public accountability reports.

On Tuesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law new regulations on how facial recognition software can be used in the state.

Rather than prohibiting all government or private use of facial recognition technology, as some cities and communities across the country have done, the Washington legislation bans facial recognition for use of “ongoing surveillance.” Once the law goes into effect next year, law enforcement will be able to use the software only to acquire evidence of serious crimes following the issuance of a search warrant.

The legislation, which passed the state legislature on March 12, also requires public agencies to issue accountability reports on facial recognition use and conduct tests on the software’s accuracy, addressing concerns from civil liberties advocates who point out that facial recognition software has been proven less accurate overall for people of color, women and transgender people.

“Right now, we have seen this technology already being used without much concern for the moral implications that are associated with it,” said state Sen. Joe Nguyen, a Democrat who sponsored the core legislation, Senate Bill 6280. “This bill will change that, and ensure that facial recognition isn’t being used unless there are regulatory checks and balances.”

Public agencies must also have a human review the software’s results if there are “legal effects” of it finding a match, such as results affecting someone’s job, housing, insurance, education and more.

“Now is the time to really work on this and find ways to root out the bias, so people across the country can be protected from unnecessary and intrusive surveillance,” Nguyen said.

The law was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs for “essentially opposite reasons,” according to BiometricUpdate.com. Private use of facial recognition was not addressed in the legislation, and Inslee vetoed a section on studying potential abuses of the software, citing budget concerns.

Microsoft, a facial recognition software provider, was one of the bill’s key supporters. (Nguyen is a Microsoft employee as well as a member of the legislature). The company’s president, Brad Smith, penned a blog post on Tuesday celebrating Washington’s “significant breakthrough” in becoming the first state or nation to pass a law “devoted exclusively to putting guardrails in place” for the use of facial recognition.

“Washington state’s new law breaks through what, at times, has been a polarizing debate,” Smith wrote. “When the new law comes into effect next year, Washingtonians will benefit from safeguards that ensure upfront testing, transparency and accountability for facial recognition, as well as specific measures to uphold fundamental civil liberties.”

Smith added that law enforcement will still be able to use the software and image databases to identify missing persons and to “keep the public safe,” but without violating human rights. He hopes that Washington’s new set of regulations will serve as a model to other states grappling with how to handle facial recognition and its growing use by law enforcement and security operations.

“Finally, a real-world example for the specific regulation of facial recognition now exists,” Smith wrote. “Some will argue it does too little. Others will contend it goes too far. When it comes to new rules for changing technology, this is the definition of progress.”

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

Featured

  • Survey: Less Than Half of IT Leaders are Confident in their IoT Security Plans

    Viakoo recently released findings from its 2024 IoT Security Crisis: By the Numbers. The survey uncovers insights from IT and security executives, exposes a dramatic surge in enterprise IoT security risks, and highlights a critical missing piece in the IoT security technology stack. The clarion call is clear: IT leaders urgently need to secure their IoT infrastructure one application at a time in an automated and expeditious fashion. Read Now

  • ASIS International and SIA Release “Complexities in the Global Security Market: 2024 Through 2026”

    ASIS International and the Security Industry Association (SIA) – the leading security associations for the security industry – have released ”Complexities in the Global Security Market: 2024 Through 2026”, a new research report that provides insights into the equipment, technologies, and employment of the global security industry, including regional market breakouts. SIA and ASIS partnered with global analytics and advisory firm Omdia to complete the research. Read Now

  • President Biden Issues Executive Order to Bolster U.S Port Cybersecurity

    On Wednesday, President Biden issued an Executive Order to bolster the security of the nation’s ports, alongside a series of additional actions that will strengthen maritime cybersecurity and more Read Now

  • Report: 15 Percent of All Emails Sent in 2023 Were Malicious

    VIPRE Security Group recently released its report titled “Email Security in 2024: An Expert Look at Email-Based Threats”. The 2024 predictions for email security in this report are based on an analysis of over 7 billion emails processed by VIPRE worldwide during 2023. This equates to almost one email for everyone on the planet. Of those, roughly 1 billion (or 15%) were malicious. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Whitepapers

New Products

  • FEP GameChanger

    FEP GameChanger

    Paige Datacom Solutions Introduces Important and Innovative Cabling Products GameChanger Cable, a proven and patented solution that significantly exceeds the reach of traditional category cable will now have a FEP/FEP construction. 3

  • Unified VMS

    AxxonSoft introduces version 2.0 of the Axxon One VMS. The new release features integrations with various physical security systems, making Axxon One a unified VMS. Other enhancements include new AI video analytics and intelligent search functions, hardened cybersecurity, usability and performance improvements, and expanded cloud capabilities 3

  • A8V MIND

    A8V MIND

    Hexagon’s Geosystems presents a portable version of its Accur8vision detection system. A rugged all-in-one solution, the A8V MIND (Mobile Intrusion Detection) is designed to provide flexible protection of critical outdoor infrastructure and objects. Hexagon’s Accur8vision is a volumetric detection system that employs LiDAR technology to safeguard entire areas. Whenever it detects movement in a specified zone, it automatically differentiates a threat from a nonthreat, and immediately notifies security staff if necessary. Person detection is carried out within a radius of 80 meters from this device. Connected remotely via a portable computer device, it enables remote surveillance and does not depend on security staff patrolling the area. 3