Va. state senate approves expansion of facial recognition police use

As it stands, only the Virginia State Police is allowed to use technology and in a limited capacity

By Suzie Ziegler 

RICHMOND, Va. — On Tuesday, the Virginia State Senate passed a bill that will broaden police powers to use facial recognition technology to solve crimes. 

According to 8News, the bill would allow police to use facial recognition databases to identify anyone involved in a “specific criminal incident or a specific citizen welfare situation.” The technology has been heavily restricted under current law, according to the report. As it stands, only the Virginia State Police is allowed to use technology in a limited capacity, while local departments must get permission. 

The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Scott Surovell, said police would be allowed to draw from a database of essentially public images on the internet. 

Meanwhile, critics worry the scope of facial recognition is too broad and could be an invasion of privacy. If the bill is signed into law, police departments may adopt a “model policy” from the Virginia State Police to regulate the tech’s use, according to 8News.

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