San Diego Law Review


John Zens

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



This Comment implores Congress to limit the development of law enforcement FRT databases. In Part II, the Comment describes facial recognition technology, examining its development and uses. This section describes how law enforcement compiles databases of faces. It concludes by exploring potential future applications of the technology. Part III discusses the privacy rights angle, answering why the American population should be concerned about—and why legislators should act to prevent—unchecked FRT-equipped law enforcement.

Part IV addresses the current statutory framework that governs law enforcement’s use of FRT. In this section, the Comment points out the general lack of enacted legislation regarding the use of biometric information by law enforcement. The analysis shows that current statutory law is blind to the potential abuses of FRT-equipped law enforcement agencies, making the technology ripe for exploitation.

In Part V, the Comment reviews Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and its applicability to FRT. Further, this section examines Supreme Court Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and concludes that recent decisions indicate that the Court would be unlikely to hold law enforcement’s uninhibited use of FRT unconstitutional. The section concludes that relying on the courts to protect citizens from technology’s encroachment on Fourth Amendment rights will result in millions of Americans losing privacy rights, even if the Court eventually changes its conception of what the Fourth Amendment protects.

Part VI proffers a legislative solution to directly address FRT’s use by law enforcement. The solution requires congressional action that addresses privacy concerns while still allowing law enforcement to use the cutting-edge technology. The proposed solution has two primary prongs: first, amending the U.S. Code to limit the authorization of the FBI’s collection and compilation of facial images to those obtained by law enforcement and correctional entities; second, proposing a new law that vests responsibility for the collection of non-criminal identification information in the Department of Health and Human Services, or another non-law enforcement agency.

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