Task force releases recommendations for Ohio’s facial-recognition software

Task force releases recommendations for Ohio’s facial-recognition software
The Ohio AG task force released a report on the state's facial-recognition software. (Source: Ohio Attorney General)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - On Thursday, Ohio Attorney General David Yost’s Facial Recognition Task Force released a report of recommendations for the state’s facial-recognition system.

Last year, that task force was put together to review Ohio’s facial-recognition software and found no evidence of misuse.

More than 24 million images are in the database, including ID photos from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

“Facial-recognition technology is a tool to develop leads – it’s a place where police work begins, not where it ends,” Yost said in a news release. “This report gives us the guidance to provide law enforcement with necessary tools, as well as needed guardrails to protect Ohioans.”

The task force met eight times and discussed several topics, including who should have access to the system, what images should be in the system, how the system should be audited and maintained, and racial and gender concerns associated with the accuracy and reliability of the technology.

They laid out 13 recommendations for Yost.

  1. The AG should appoint a Facial Recognition Advisory Committee.
  2. The General Assembly should be encouraged to weigh-in on the appropriate use of facial-recognition technology and oversight.
  3. The AH should limit access to the facial-recognition database to trained professionals at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
  4. The AG should declare a moratorium on the use of “live” facial-recognition.
  5. The AG should maintain the current Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) standard that expressly prohibits the use of facial recognition to conduct surveillance of persons or groups based solely on their religious, political, or other constitutionally protected activities or affiliations.
  6. The AG should promulgate a specific standard for when law enforcement may utilize facial recognition and define investigative purposes for its use. This standard should require reasonable suspicion that the person to be identified has committed a crime, there person’s actions present a danger to human life or may cause serious physical harm, or that law enforcement must use facial-recognition to identify someone who is not able to identify him or herself.
  7. The AG should follow the recommended guidance from the facial identification Scientific Working Group for security and maintenance.
  8. The AG should follow the recommended guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to conduct assessments of how the system works.
  9. The facial-recognition database system should have an image quality standard and disqualify images that do not meet that standard.
  10. Probe images used by law enforcement should not be enrolled in the facial-recognition database.
  11. The Ag should seek agreement from the Department of Public Safety and BMV to enroll current BMV images that meet the requisite image quality standard in the facial recognition database.
  12. Ohio’s facial-recognition policy should address routine monitoring, periodic audits, enforcement and public transparency.
  13. The AG should ensure the public has access to information about the use and regulation of facial-recognition in Ohio.

“The task force appreciates the opportunity to engage early in a long-term, consequential conversation on the evolution of facial recognition as an investigative tool for Ohio law enforcement. This is a pivotal time to consider structure and protocols to build public trust and confidence in powerful technology that has limitations and can be easily misunderstood," the report states.

The panel compared Ohio’s facial-recognition software to that of other states, as well as previewing software from a vendor that will provide the technology to the attorney general’s office in 2021.

You can read the full report here.

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