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Montana legislators still disagree on how to regulate facial recognition technology, which is rapidly emerging in the state as the 2023 Congress approaches.

Some support an outright moratorium on technology, while others seek a more nuanced approach by tweaking privacy guidelines and allowing some institutions to continue using technology to a limited extent. There are also people. In nearly a year of research and discussion about this technology, one thing has become clear. That will be an issue that will be raised in the next session, but it is unlikely that the Commission’s bill will be resolved interimly.

“get annoyed” Senator Ken Bogner of R-Miles City and Chairman of the Interim Committee on Economic Affairs said: “That’s the most frustrating thing, because the committee is pretty much on the same page. ”

Rep. Bogner and Missoula Democratic Rep. Katie Sullivan spent much of their interim time working on draft legislation that would put a significant sideboard on the use of technology in the state. For example, law enforcement agencies are allowed to use this technology if they have a warrant and it’s a serious crime. The bill also allowed institutions such as the automotive sector to maintain contracts with third-party companies that use the technology.

In general, research bills have lower support in the legislature without bipartisan support from the interim committee. And with two facial recognition technology bills contesting his EAIC, it’s unlikely he’ll get out of the commission with full board support right now.

Last week, instead of taking up Bogner and Sullivan’s bill, the EAIC committee voted for another bill. R-Bigfork Rep. Mark Noland has proposed that the law essentially bans the technology in the state.

Noland’s bill held back some legislators. Much of the interim time was spent gathering feedback from stakeholders and the public on Bogner’s and Sullivan’s bills.

“Noland’s bill took the committee by surprise .. I knew at my caucuses that all but one would probably vote for it,” Bogner said. The bill ultimately failed to get out of the committee with a tie vote.

In a telephone interview, Noland defended his bill, saying it was the most effective of the two bills for protecting the privacy of Montanas.

“My reasoning is that I want to protect the integrity of our privacy…Facial recognition technology is a way for companies that monitor such things to have access to you, me, my mother, grandma, and children. It has the potential to be able to… I want to keep it… at all costs,” he said.

During the 2021 session, Sullivan’s efforts to establish a policy on the use of facial recognition technology by state agencies in Montana fell through. However, Congress recognized its importance and during the interim period leading up to the next Congress he directed the EAIC to consider the issue.

In Montana, three agencies are currently using this technology.

  • Office of Corrections for Identification for Remote Alcohol Monitoring
  • Identity verification for unemployment insurance is conducted by the Ministry of Labor and Industry
  • Department of Justice for Driver License Identification

For now, Bogner and Sullivan said they will continue fine-tuning the bill ahead of the committee’s Sept. 13 meeting.

“I don’t think either bill is ready. I think the version that Ken and I worked on is very close. “They’re not very excited about it, but they’re aware of it, and we’ve come to compromise,” Sullivan said. With a plan in place, there will be no interruption to the service they provide to Montana people.”

The bill will be tabled at the next session, but Bogner said it would help if the bill came out of the committee with bipartisan support.

“When we’re in a regular meeting, you look at how[the bill]comes out of the committee and if it’s 6-4 or even 7-3, you start asking questions. “Legislators want to know why the vote was so close in committees when they had time to study.”

Sullivan had the same message. “I would like to introduce a bill with broad bipartisan support so that institutions can participate and say they are working on it. ”

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