Boston Simply Banned Its Authorities From Utilizing Facial Recognition Know-how


The Boston Metropolis Council voted unanimously to ban the town authorities, together with police, from utilizing facial recognition expertise on Wednesday, making Boston the biggest metropolis on the East Coast to take action.

The legislation makes it unlawful for the town of Boston or Boston officers to “get hold of, retain, possess, entry, or use” facial recognition expertise, or any info obtained via facial recognition. It is also now unlawful for the town authorities to enter into contracts that let using facial recognition expertise.

5 different cities in Massachusetts — together with Springfield, Cambridge, Northampton, Brookline, and Somerville — have banned the governmental use of facial recognition up to now yr. San Francisco and Oakland have handed related bans.

The ordinance famous that facial recognition expertise is “much less correct for African American and [Asian American and Pacific Islander] faces,” and that “racial bias in facial surveillance has the potential to hurt communities of coloration who’re already going through elevated ranges of surveillance and harassment.”

“I feel that there’s a very good purpose to ban this expertise proper now — as a result of it’s unreliable — and transferring ahead, we have now to additionally think about whether or not simply because one thing is feasible, that it’s the correct factor to do,” Councilor Liz Breadon stated in Wednesday’s assembly. “Surveilling our inhabitants at giant and doing facial identification will not be essentially the best way we wish to go in a free society.”

The ordinance was launched with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been advocating in opposition to facial recognition with its “Press Pause Face Surveillance” marketing campaign, which concentrates on passing citywide restrictions on facial recognition expertise.

“To successfully deal with police abuses and systemic racism, we should deal with the instruments that exacerbate these long-standing crises,” Carol Rose, government director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, stated in an announcement. “Face surveillance supercharges the policing of Black and brown communities, and tramples on everybody’s rights to anonymity and privateness.”

A 2018 ACLU report discovered that Rekognition, a facial recognition instrument that Amazon sells to police, falsely matched 28 members of Congress with individuals in mugshots. Earlier this month, the corporate stated that it will pause promoting facial recognition to police for one yr, however refused to say what number of police departments have used or at present use Rekognition.

Briefcam — an organization that helps police analyze surveillance footage and acknowledge faces — claimed in advertising supplies that it helped police examine the Boston Marathon bombing. It’s unclear what, if any, position the corporate performed in arresting the suspects.

In response to paperwork seen by BuzzFeed Information, companies and police departments within the Boston metropolitan space have additionally used Clearview AI, an organization that provides facial recognition software program powered by greater than three billion photographs taken from social media websites together with Fb, Twitter, and Instagram. A BuzzFeed Information investigation in February revealed that greater than 2,200 entities have run searches with Clearview starting from federal officers on the Justice Division and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to native police departments to personal firms together with Macy’s and Kohl’s.

A few of these entities are based mostly within the Boston space. As an illustration, Boston Properties, an actual property firm based mostly within the metropolis, had run dozens of Clearview searches as of February, based mostly on paperwork reviewed by BuzzFeed Information. The neighboring Cambridge Police Division ran over 100 searches, the Revere Police Division ran greater than 70 searches, and the Somerville Police Division ran a minimum of one Clearview scan, in keeping with these paperwork.



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