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Will Governor Youngkin sign a police facial recognition bill?

In this photo taken Tuesday, May 7, 2019, is a security camera in the Financial District of San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/AP)
Eric Risberg
/
AP
In this photo taken Tuesday, May 7, 2019, is a security camera in the Financial District of San Francisco.

Police departments across Virginia may soon be using your Facebook photo to see if you are a suspect in a crime.

Governor Glenn Youngkin is now considering a bill that would allow your local police department to use a third-party vendor that scrapes billions of photos from Facebook and Instagram. Supporters say facial recognition technology allows cash-strapped police departments to fight crime with less manpower. But Delegate Cia Price, a Democrat from Newport News, says she's worried about disproportionate policing.

"In order for this particular technology to work quote-unquote ‘lowering crime,’ you need cameras in all the communities," Price explains. "Where would the communities be where these cameras would be? Communities like mine that have already been historically over-policed."

The bill was introduced by Senator Scott Surovell, a Democrat from Fairfax County who says those concerns are overblown. He says police lineups have a 40% error rate.

"This technology is way more accurate than any current policing methods that are currently used to identify people," Surovell says. "So I think the people that are raising the specter of problems are creating boogeymen."

The bill passed the House and the Senate with a bipartisan coalition, although many key Republicans were opposed, including Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert. Now the decision is in the hands of a Republican governor, and opponents of police using facial recognition technology are urging him to get out his veto pen.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.