Baltimore Latest City to Consider Banning Facial Recognition Technology

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Connecting state and local government leaders

The Maryland city joins several other localities that have banned or are assessing the controversial technology, or are limiting its scope and use.

The Baltimore City Council voted Tuesday to advance a bill that temporarily bans facial recognition technology, according to Baltimore’s WMAR-2 ABC news. 

The bill calls for a pause at the city level until the council gets more answers regarding how the data is shared and if it's violating the privacy of citizens. There will be another vote on the bill's future on Monday, June 14.

If passed, Baltimore will join cities like Minneapolis, Boston and Oakland, California in banning facial recognition technology. Other local governments have limited the scope and size of their facial recognition technology use, including New York, Seattle, Detroit, Nashville and Pittsburgh, among others. 

Facial recognition is used by companies, law enforcement and government agencies to capture people's images by video and photo to help identify unknown persons.

According to Baltimore’s WMAR-2 News, there are noticeable cameras throughout Baltimore, but the question looms as to what they're capturing and the purpose of its footage. Proponents of the bill cite misidentifications of people of color and the troubling effects of bias in the system as reasons to ban the technology.

Opponents of banning facial recognition software, on the other hand, say businesses like banks and hotels need it to protect their firms and properties.

Baltimore recently ended its spy plane experiment, a surveillance program that was criticized for not decreasing crime but put thousands of people under surveillance.

A recent report by the National League of Cities addresses issues surrounding facial recognition and governments’ ability to balance transparency with effectiveness and efficiency. 

To read more information about the Baltimore bill click here.

Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.

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