The town of Brookline, Massachusetts, has officially moved forward with its facial recognition ban. The proposed ban was first tabled back in August with the blessing of Brookline State Senator Cynthia Creem.
The new law bars the government’s use of facial recognition technology for surveillance and other purposes. It passed with an overwhelming 179 votes (against eight in opposition) during a recent town meeting, and makes Brookline the second Massachusetts town to implement such a ban. Sommerville adopted similar legislation earlier in the summer.
The Massachusetts ACLU backed the new law, and is currently advocating for a broader facial recognition ban at the state level.
“We are losing control of our personal information because our technology has outpaced our civil rights protections in the law,” said Kade Crockford, the Director of Massachusetts ACLU’s Technology for Liberty Program. “We should be dictating how, if at all, these dangerous technologies will be used by our town and city governments.”
The ban was opposed by Brookline Police Sergeant Casey Hatchett, although that opposition does not seem to have had much of an impact on the final outcome. Law enforcement has consistently defended the use of facial recognition technology despite ineffective deployments in New York and elsewhere.
The Brookline ban, meanwhile, speaks to the growing opposition to facial recognition. The trend began with a high-profile ban in San Francisco earlier this year, and has since gained momentum with a ban in Oakland and a review in Detroit. Bernie Sanders has also made a police facial recognition ban a key component of his Presidential campaign.
December 13, 2019 – by Eric Weiss