On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will consider two pieces of legislation limiting law enforcement’s ability to use facial recognition technology.

House Bill 197 (HB197) is sponsored by State Rep. Rod Scott (D-Fairfield) and Senate Bill 56 is sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur).

“Let's say I rob a liquor store and there is video in the liquor store,” Orr said. “What if law enforcement uses artificial intelligence (AI) to compare the liquor store video with all of the driver’s license photos?”

There have been a lot of “inaccuracies and false positives” with this Orr explained.

This legislation would not prevent law enforcement from using AI and facial recognition technology to solve crimes, but it would “require independent evidence” in addition to the AI match with a photo database in order to get a conviction or make an arrest.

The bill also forbids law enforcement from using AI and facial recognition technology to identify a subject based on a sketch or drawing.

According to the synopsis of HB197, “This bill would prohibit state or local law enforcement agencies from using artificial intelligence or a facial recognition service to engage in ongoing surveillance except for in certain circumstances. This bill would prohibit the results of artificial intelligence or a facial recognition service from being the sole basis for making an arrest or for establishing probable cause in a criminal investigation. This bill would also prohibit artificial intelligence or a facial recognition service from being used as a way to identify an individual based on other images.”

Artificial intelligence is defined under this bill as: “Computer systems or other technology able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception and speech recognition.”

Facial Recognition Service is defined as “Any computer software, algorithm, product, or application that collects or electronically analyzes information for the purpose of identifying an individual by using technology capable of uniquely identifying or verifying a person by comparing and analyzing patterns based on that individual's facial contours.”

Skylor Hearn is the Director of Government Relations for Clearview AI. Hearn was recently the keynote speaker at the Alabama Human Trafficking Summit. He is a retired Texas Ranger with 25 years of experience in law enforcement.

‘We are an intelligence platform that helps investigators efficiently process information they already possess,” Hearn said. “One of those tools is facial recognition.

“A small section of people opposes this technology."

Hearn acknowledged that the opposition cites information that comes from a 2019 study.

“In the highest-performing algorithms for one-to-one matches, the highest performing algorithms, we saw undetectable, the bias, the demographic differentials,” Hearn said, claiming that his product does not have the flaws found in some products.

“There is a difference with Tik Tok video, Snapchat videos,” Hearn said. “You lose your expectation of privacy when we put that out there.”

Hearn said that facial recognition technology is being used by law enforcement to find trafficked children and the villains that traffic them.

“There is no government database for 12-year-old girls,” Hearn said, “This technology can help you find them. You are not going to be able to find some of these girls if you restrict this technology to government databases.”

“Clearview’s AI’s ranked is in the top three in the world,” Hearn said. “We are not the Russians or the Chinese.”

“You don’t want a perfect match, you want a high-quality match,” Hearn explained. “They have to take that and figure whether that is him or not.

“The Chinese use facial recognition for surveillance. We do not have an application for this.”

Hearn said that this technology can be used to minimize negative police interaction.

“One of those is bringing in suspects for questioning,” Hearn said. “This is a technology that narrows that down.”

“This is victim-centric technology,” Hearn said. “Thousands of victims are being trafficked online each day. If you are going to try to identify that victim and save them this technology may be your only hope.

“There is a bill in your State House that would limit law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology,” Hearn said referring to HB197 and SB56. “It is based on inaccuracies and half-truths.”

SB56 has already passed the Senate.

The House Judiciary Committee will meet in Room 200 at 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday will be day 14 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.