Lawmakers, school officials meet at schools over facial recognition tech

State lawmakers studying facial recognition technology have expressed concerns about student privacy when the technology is used in schools. Montana Public Radio reported at least one case of the technology being used by a school district, prompting a meeting of lawmakers.

On Monday, the state’s interim committee on economic affairs met with a school district that uses facial recognition technology, as well as leading public school associations and agencies.

Kris Goss, director of policy services for the Montana School Board Association, told lawmakers that schools do not have specific laws governing facial recognition, but companies must follow more general privacy policies outlined in state and federal law.

“Compliance means business. I think this student privacy issue is on the minds of all of us advising school districts on a legal basis,” Goss said.

Democratic House Rep. Katie Sullivan pointed to the security tradeoffs such technology requires.

“We know this technology is useful for safety, right? At the same time, there are safety concerns with companies using children’s data. Right? Who is that? Are they suitable?”

Sen. Kenneth Bogner, chairman of the committee, said members will introduce individual legislation on the technology at an upcoming meeting.

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