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Lawmakers hesitate to fund Utah’s planned new surveillance system

At the Silicon Slopes conference earlier this year, Banjo CEO Damien Patton talked about the importance of getting privacy concerns right when it comes to artificial intelligence. Photo credit: Team Banjo Instagram

Some state lawmakers are worried about a new system being developed to track all kinds of data in Utah in real-time.

It would combine things like traffic cameras, social media posts and other data going into one system.

DPS Commissioner Jess Anderson spoke to the Executive Appropriations Committee about it on Tuesday saying that it could solve crimes, find missing children, and help traffic flows.

Others called it a big brother surveillance tool and as such hesitated giving it more funding.

The legislature gave the project $3.7 million dollars in initial funding earlier this year, but it would take another $2.2 million each year.

Social media posts, traffic cameras, and other data signals all pouring into one system to produce a picture of what’s happening right now.

Representative Francis Gibson questioned DPS commissioner Jess Anderson about the potential for abuse.

“Big Brother here is going to watch everything you do. Social media, you name it, is that pretty much what it is?

Anderson says that it does have that possibility but would also mean quicker response times to more accurate locations of issues.

The legislature now decides whether to give the project more money.