Massachusetts lawmakers pass state-wide police ban on facial recognition


Several cities across the US had passed similar facial recognition bans over the past couple of years. San Francisco became the first city to prohibit its use back in May 2019, followed by Somerville, Mass. and Oakland, California. Boston banned the technology in June, while Portland, Maine followed just this November. Those cities’ rules, like Massachusetts, only prohibit the use of facial recognition by law enforcement and government officials, though. Back in September, officials in Portland, Oregon passed the strictest municipal ban on facial recognition in the country, preventing even private businesses from deploying the technology in public spaces.

Kade Crockford from the ACLU of Massachusetts told TechCrunch in a statement:

“No one should have to fear the government tracking and identifying their face wherever they go, or facing wrongful arrest because of biased, error-prone technology. We commend the legislature for advancing a bill to protect all Massachusetts residents from unregulated face surveillance technology.”

Facial recognition systems are still far from perfect, and studies continue to show that they’re more likely to misidentify POCs than their Caucasian counterparts. The technology’s use led to at least two wrongful arrests in Detroit earlier this year, and both misidentified individuals were Black men.


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