Virginia lifts ban on police facial recognition technology

Posted at 12:29 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 12:29:19-04

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Most of the legislation passed earlier this year by the divided Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin will take effect Friday.

That includes measures that lifted a sweeping ban on facial recognition technology, expanded hunting on public lands, and added a new criminal penalty for marijuana possession.


Virginia policymakers opted to lift a ban enacted only a year ago on the use of facial recognition technology by most police agencies.

The new law allows police agencies to use the technology in certain circumstances, including to help identify an individual when they have reasonable suspicion that the person committed a crime. It can also be used to help identify crime victims or witnesses, sex trafficking victims and unidentified bodies in morgues.

The new legislation explicitly bars the use of facial recognition for surveillance or monitoring.

Criminal Justice

SB 741: Authorizes local law-enforcement agencies, campus police departments and State Police to use facial recognition technology for certain authorized uses as defined in the bill.

HB 170: Directs the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to convene a work group to study inmate work release programs.

HB 397: Modifies the formula for compensating wrongfully incarcerated persons to equal $55,000 per year of incarceration, adjusted for inflation, changes the amount of compensation that may be paid out as a lump sum to equal 25% of the total award with the remainder to be paid out as an annuity with a term of 10 years.

HB 738: Provides that whenever a court orders an evaluation of a defendant's competency to stand trial, the clerk of the court shall provide a copy of the order to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

HB 258: Directs the Department of Criminal Justice Services, under the direction of the Criminal Justice Services Board, to develop an online course to train hotel proprietors and their employees, as defined in the bill, to recognize and report instances of suspected human trafficking. The bill provides that such online course shall be provided at no cost to the hotel proprietors and their employees.

SB 658: The law-enforcement agency that receives a physical evidence recovery kit shall store such kit for a period of 10 years or until 10 years after the victim reaches the age of majority if the victim was a minor at the time of collection, whichever is longer. There are more guidelines for evidence recovery kits outlined in the bill.

SB 493: Provides that any person 18 years of age or older who knowingly transmits an intimate image, as defined in the bill, by computer or other electronic means to the computer or electronic communication device of another person 18 years of age or older when such other person has not consented to the use of his computer or electronic communication device for the receipt of such material or has expressly forbidden the receipt of such material shall be considered a trespass and shall be liable to the recipient of the intimate image for actual damages or $500, whichever is greater, in addition to reasonable attorney fees and costs.
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