Drones and Facial Recognition Technology

Taran Samarth filed this request with the Penn State Police And Public Safety Department of Pennsylvania.
Due June 28, 2022
Est. Completion None
Awaiting Response


From: Taran Samarth

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Right to Know Act, I hereby request the following records:

1. any requests for proposals, proposals submitted by vendors, contracts, budgets or cost allocations for the purchase, research of and/or use of aerial drones, UAs, UAVs, and UASs (hereinafter “drones”);

2. any policies, guidelines, manuals and/or instructions on use of drones, including on the legal process required (such as a warrant or court order), if any, before operating a drone;

3. any departmental records concerning use of drones now or plans to use drones in the future including:

a. the types of investigations or instances in which this institution is using or plans to use drones, or how it plans to support, manage or oversee the usage of drones by another department or office;

b. policies, guidelines, manuals and/or instructions on storage requirements or procedures for video or static images obtained through use of drones, including retention times;

c. the altitude at which drones can or do fly;

d. drones’ ability to carry weapons.

4. Records and materials related to the solicitation, acquisition, and use of face recognition technology and related software and services. The software or services may be provided by AWS (Rekognition), DataWorks, NEC, and Rank One Computing; this request is applicable to these and any other company providing facial recognition services under consideration or contract with this agency.

a. Responsive materials include but are not limited to:
• Agreements: contracts, licensing agreements, nondisclosure agreements.
• Company relations and communications: records related to meetings or follow-up actions with any vendors, companies, or other private entities marketing face recognition to this agency for immigration, intelligence, law enforcement, or other use.
• Financial records: purchase orders, invoices, and other memoranda and documentation.
• Marketing records: All marketing materials - unsolicited, requested, or otherwise - acquired from vendors of face recognition technology.
• Policy records: any policy directives, guidance documents, memoranda, training materials, or similar records governing the use of face recognition technology for immigration, law enforcement, or other purposes. Any memoranda of understanding between this agency and other agencies to share data, access remote systems or other forms of information sharing with external agencies.
• Validation and accuracy: Records, reports, audits, and other documents sufficient to describe validation, accuracy, reliability, and policy compliance of the system.

Please limit the search to records produced from January 1, 2016 – present and to records held by the University's Police and Public Safety Department. Please include in your search as responsive records: communications, memorandums, background papers, meeting minutes, email exchanges, or presentation materials. If your office has questions about this request, please feel free to contact me directly.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.


Taran Samarth

From: Penn State Police And Public Safety Department

Good afternoon,
My office received your recent request for records. The Pennsylvania State University ("the University") is not a "Commonwealth Agency" or "Local Agency" as defined under Pennsylvania's Right-To-Know law<https://nam10.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.openrecords.pa.gov%2FRTKL%2FAbout.cfm&data=05%7C01%7Cnvg5267%40psu.edu%7C07d70b72fd364c17326a08da4d7125da%7C7cf48d453ddb4389a9c1c115526eb52e%7C0%7C0%7C637907445598045768%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=LO3%2BvH%2FGl2wgeB3TOGS%2BrJ3s5aKTfw5%2FEqbwbDptlic%3D&reserved=0>, and the documents you have requested are not public records under Pennsylvania law.

You will find the University's Use of Drones policy at the following link: https://policy.psu.edu/policies/sy45.


Natalie Voris Grosse | Associate General Counsel
The Pennsylvania State University
Office of the General Counsel
227 West Beaver Avenue, Suite 507 | State College, PA 16801
Phone: 814-867-5332 | nvg5267@psu.edu<mailto:nvg5267@psu.edu> | Fax: 814-863-8469

IMPORTANT WARNING: This message and its attachments may contain information that is confidential, privileged, or otherwise protected from disclosure. Do not distribute, forward, or retransmit without the prior approval of the sender. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from disclosing, printing, distributing, or saving this message. If you have received this message in error, please delete all electronic copies of this message (including any and all attachments), destroy any hard copies you may have created, and notify me immediately by replying to this email. Thank you.

From: Taran Samarth

Hi Natalie,

Thanks for your quick response, and thanks for sending along the University-wide Use of Drones policy. To clarify, I'm exclusively requesting responsive records and documentation retained by University Police and Public Safety (UPPS), not by any other entity or department. I understand that, under the exemption for State-related institutions, the University has historically denied Right to Know requests for various materials. Does the exemption for State-related institutions extend to all or some records retained by UPPS? (If any UPPS records are obtainable by RTK requests, is there a publicly-available breakdown of which ones are public records?)

Thanks again!


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