Boston Bans Government Use of Facial Recognition Software

Biometrics / Facial Recognition technology / Big Brother
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Boston has joined cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Cambridge in passing an ordinance to ban government use of facial recognition technology. Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu commented: “Boston should not be using racially discriminatory technology and technology that threatens our basic rights.”

CNET reports that the city of Boston has joined cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts in passing an ordinance to ban facial recognition technology for municipal use. Boston is now the second-largest city in the United States to ban facial recognition after San Francisco banned the tech in May 2019.

The city ordinance passed unanimously and will stop the city from using facial recognition for identification in most capacities, whether it is for law enforcement or in other ways. Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu commented: “Boston should not be using racially discriminatory technology and technology that threatens our basic rights.”

There are exceptions to the ordinance, for instance, city officials can use facial recognition tech to for authentication purposes such as unlocking their cell phone. Facial recognition tech can also be used by city officials for automatically redacting races in images, but cannot be used to identify individuals.

The bill was sponsored by both Wu and City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo. The bill largely prevents the city of Boston from using facial recognition tech, obtaining information form a facial recognition system, or even hiring a third party that could use facial recognition systems on behalf of the city.

The ban on facial recognition tech comes as people call for widespread police reform nationwide following the death of George Floyd. Many in the tech world have called for major Silicon Valley tech giants to stop collaborating with law enforcement. Recently, more than 1,600 Google employees signed an internal petition calling for the firm to stop selling its software to police.

The petition states: “We’re disappointed to know that Google is still selling to police forces, and advertises its connection with police forces as somehow progressive, and seeks more expansive sales rather than severing ties with police and joining the millions who want to defang and defund these institutions.”

The petition as stated by a group of Google employees called Googlers Against Racism and is addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai. “Why help the institutions responsible for the knee on George Floyd’s neck to be more effective organizationally?”

It is unknown just how closely Google works with U.S. law enforcement agencies, it is known that Google sells cloud-based software like the business version of its Gmail product through a third-party vendor to at least one police department, the Clarkstown Police Department in Rockland County, New York.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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