The citizens of Portland, Maine, have passed a ballot measure that will ban the public use of facial recognition technology. The new law specifically bars the police and other city agencies from using the technology, and allows individual citizens to collect civil fees if they are unlawfully subjected to face surveillance. The minimum payout is $1000.
In that regard, the ballot measure will give teeth to a city council ordinance that was passed in August. That preliminary ban did not set firm guidelines for monetary damages, nor did it include any penalties for city employees who violate the law. The ballot measure entitles citizens to $1000 or $100 per violation (whichever number is larger), and gives the city the authority to suspend or fire employees who perform a facial recognition scan on a civilian.
Though it was only passed in August, the Portland City Council had been considering a facial recognition ban since November of 2019. The new, stronger ban will stand for at least five years, and cannot be revoked during that window.
The ballot measure itself was introduced by the Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The organization also pushed other progressive ballot measures such as a $15 minimum wage and a cap on rent increases.
The news makes Portland the latest municipality to implement a facial recognition ban. San Francisco kicked off the trend in May of 2019, and many other jurisdictions have followed suit in the months since. Portland, Oregon, passed its own ban in September, with an initiative that goes a step further and extends the ban to private businesses. The Portland, Maine, measure, on the other hand, does not apply to the private sector.
Source: The Verge
November 4, 2020 – by Eric Weiss