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After Banjo, facial recognition and other tech controversies, libertarian group seeks 'privacy' law

Data privacy protection at forefront of new proposed federal law
Posted at 9:37 AM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 11:37:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A libertarian-leaning group is pushing legislation that would create a state "privacy" officer in the aftermath of state controversies surrounding the state's utilization of technology.

The Libertas Institute released a document calling for legislation to create a "privacy officer" in the Utah State Auditor's Office, as well as a committee that would explore the various sources of tech that could compromise data privacy, including biometrics, surveillance cameras, facial recognition, etc.

"This information is frequently used in ways that individuals did not intend nor authorize. Government uses our driver license data for facial recognition and cancer research; our movements and social media posts for 'live time' surveillance; our blood for health analysis; our DNA for identifying relatives in criminal investigations; our face or fingerprint to access the entire contents of our mobile devices; our private health information to monitor potential drug abuse; and more," the group said. "This intrusion into privacy changes the relationship between government and citizen, and often happens without oversight or public buy-in, let alone explicit consent by those whose information it is."

The Utah State Legislature has wrestled with data privacy issues in the past, running bills with no success. FOX 13 has reported on issues related to the Utah Department of Public Safety's use of facial recognition tech and the Utah Attorney General's utilization of Banjo, a near-real time alerting system that has seen its share of scrutiny. It has also considered bills related to biometric security and law enforcement access to home kit DNA.