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Illinois Bans Drones From Using Facial Recognition

The new law eases controls on the use of drones for public safety, though weaponry and facial recognition software is barred

Scarlett Evans

June 29, 2023

1 Min Read
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The state of Illinois has signed a new act barring law enforcement’s use of drones for facial recognition, barring a few exceptions.

The legislation, the Drones as First Responders Act, stipulates that law enforcement agencies can use drones for security at public events, but bans fitting them with facial recognition, photography capabilities or weaponry.

Facial recognition is allowed only in the instance it can be used to prevent a terrorist attack, or in instances where immediate action is needed to prevent loss of life. Equipping drones with weaponry is not allowed in any circumstance.

The new law acts to ease previously enforced drone surveillance restrictions by allowing their presence at certain public events, aside from a “political protest, march, demonstration or other assembly protected by the First Amendment.” 

The decision to expand the use of drones for public safety has received support from Illinois senators, with some citing the Highland Park parade shooting last year as a motivating factor.

"As we enter parade and festival season, it’s more pertinent than ever that law enforcement are equipped with the most  modern tools and training to keep communities safe," said State Senator Julie Morrison in a statement. "It's simple: drones will save lives. We can't let another community feel the sheer terror and heartbreak that Highland Park still feels a year later. Today we've taken a positive and commonsense step toward a safer Illinois."

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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