When Chris Wolfe and I were talking between segments this morning, he mentioned that when he traveled in Europe over the holidays Customs used facial recognition technology as part of the process. He said it made things move very quickly.

Today in the Montana Legislature, Senate Bill 397, a bipartisan bill to consider the ways facial recognition technology is used by the state government, is being debated.

I hate to say it, but it sounds like facial recognition technology is coming. The question is how/or in what ways, and how soon.

If you have a recent iPhone there's a good chance you're already using facial recognition technology to unlock your phone. Same with Android.

There of course would have to be a lot of safeguards in place for people to be comfortable with this kind of technology, especially in Montana. So let's say that those safeguards were in place. Where could facial recognition technology make life easier? I could think of a few places.


Don't you think this could cut down on wait times? A facial scan and your license is pulled up, then edits or changes could be made on the spot instead of filling out forms and waiting for a new license to arrive in the mail. Maybe they could be printed on the spot too, like debit cards at a bank. Then again, maybe the DMV already does this and I'm out of the loop.


If you've ever worked with multiple specialists within the same healthcare system then you know how convenient it can be to have your medical records shared between your providers instead of having to fill out endless intake forms. I have used my fingerprint to check in at a hospital. Maybe facial recognition is next. Facial recognition could potentially even assist with finding missing patients within a hospital (yes, it happens, I used to work in a hospital).

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TSA Line at the airport

Similar to Customs, this could move things along quickly and I imagine it would operate like a fast-pass style check-in. My dad has a common name and he is often flagged by TSA for further check-in. I'm sure in this instance, he'd appreciate facial recognition. For what it's worth, TSA tried this out over the holidays in major cities. 

Maybe the reality is that too many Montanans would have privacy concerns over facial recognition technology, and it's possible SB 397 will put restrictions on its use that would prohibit some of what is identified above. I guess we will have to keep an eye on the progress of SB 397.

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