Facial-recognition protections by AG Dave Yost signal welcome determination to guard Ohio data from abuse: editorial

Cleveland.com | Editorial Board

Ohio Attorney General David Yost has done the right thing in suspending, pending further training, the access of roughly 4,500 law enforcement officers to the state’s facial recognition database. This follows a probe Yost ordered that determined that Ohio’s 24 million images, such as driver’s license photos and mugshots, had not been subject to facial-recognition fishing expeditions.

Rather, law enforcement agencies have used Ohio’s database appropriately, the study found, to identify criminal suspects, the unidentified dead and people suffering from amnesia, as cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer reports.

Ohio’s facial-recognition program is part of an Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) network overseen by the AG’s office that went active in June 2013. Its primary goal has been to help local, state and federal officials identify suspects in criminal investigations. Based on Yost’s review, that’s largely what it’s been used for.

However, that still means that thousands of OHLEG accounts had access to this data, including for searches on behalf of federal agencies, for whom 418 searches were conducted from 2017 through this July, according to Yost’s review.

In addition to barring access to the data pending further training, Yost, a Columbus-area Republican, also is moving to set up a task force that will include civilian technology experts and others to advise state officials on best practices and safeguards going forward.

Read the full editorial here.