Baltimore City Councilman Plans To Regulate Facial Recognition Technology After The Ban Expires

Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett speaking at the podium in City Hall. Screenshot via @kristerferb on Instagram.

What’s happening?

Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett (D-District 8) plans to propose legislation regulating facial recognition technology following the expiration of the city’s ban on the software at the end of the month, Deborah Weiner reports for WBAL TV-11. Burnett also sponsored the original legislation instituting the moratorium, Emily Opilo reported for the Baltimore Sun. 

Why did Baltimore City originally ban the technology?

Beginning in June 2021, Baltimore City barred the use of facial recognition technology within city government as well as for private residents and businesses—with the exception of the city’s police department, which is considered a state agency, according to the Baltimore Sun article. Burnett said he proposed the ban last year due to research findings pointing to issues with the technology’s accuracy recognizing people with physical disabilities, Black and Brown faces, and trans folk. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also pursued legal action across the country to protect residents’ privacy rights and civil liberties against the misuse of facial recognition technology. “It gives governments, companies and individuals the power to spy on us wherever we go—tracking our faces at protests, political rallies, places of worship and more,”  according to the ACLU.

Anything else I should know? 

Other states—including Virginia, Illinois, and Massachusetts—have passed laws on the use of facial recognition technology. Burnett said his proposed regulations could include provisions allowing residents to opt out of having their images included in facial recognition systems. 

You can read more here. 

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