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Senate passes bill limiting use of AI by law enforcement

By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill prohibiting law enforcement agencies from using artificial intelligence or facial recognition software alone to make arrests or establish probable cause for arrests. 

Under Senate Bill 56, the results of a facial recognition service may be used only in conjunction with other information and evidence lawfully obtained by law enforcement officers.

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, introduced an identical bill in the 2021 legislative session, where it also received unanimous approval in the Senate. It didn’t get a House vote.

Orr said that he was inspired to draft this legislation in 2020 after seeing a news article about how law enforcement agencies across the country were making wrongful arrests based on artificial intelligence, which they used to compare video surveillance to a database of driver licenses. 

“We need to have some safeguards in there, and that’s what this bill will do,” Orr said.

Other Senators were in agreement and raised no questions to Senate Bill 56.

It now moves to the House.

A federal report in 2019 said Asians and African Americans were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white men by facial-recognition systems, depending on the particular algorithm and type of search. Native Americans had the highest false-positive rate of all ethnicities, according to the study, which found that systems varied widely in their accuracy.


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