Saving Face: Regulating Law Enforcement’s Use of Mobile Facial Recognition Technology & Iris Scans

In 2012, more than 50 law enforcement agencies across the United States began using a mobile device, the Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System (“MORIS”), to identify persons via facial recognition technology (“FRT”) and iris scans. No legislative guidelines exist detailing how this personal information can be collected, stored, or used. State and federal case law are silent as to how law enforcement should use MORIS. And although some law enforcement agencies have developed internal guidelines, privacy and policy concerns loom.

This Note explores the privacy and policy concerns raised by MORIS’s use and proposes that the Arizona legislature appease these worries. First, the Note details the level of suspicion police officers should obtain before using MORIS by comparing the device to technology that courts have previously considered. Next, the Note discusses policy concerns, such as the possibility for police bias and error. In response, the Note proposes solutions to minimize these concerns. The Note argues that neither law enforcement nor MORIS’s developer is positioned to sufficiently mitigate these concerns through self-regulation. In turn, the Note concludes that the state legislature should adopt the Note’s recommended guidelines, which strike a balance between MORIS’s benefits to law enforcement and citizens’ privacy.