Portland, ME Considers Outright Ban on Facial Recognition Tech

Civil rights advocates across the United States have stated that facial recognition technology should be banned, and the city of Portland, ME is giving an ear to their demands. Throughout the US, facial recognition has been used by commercial businesses for a variety of applications, from automatic check-in at airports to unlocking smartphones using the camera. Now, the city of Portland has listened to the concerns of civil rights activists about the technology being a potential invasion of privacy, and two city councilors want to bring legislation to limit the free use of the technology within the city.

First in the State

The new legislation, proposed by councilors Brian Batson and Pious Ali, would stop the state from using facial recognition technologies in the pursuit of its duties. The ban would include the use of the tech by police departments within the region. Portland, if it is successful in passing the legislation, would be the first community within the state of Maine to enact the ban. They would also be among the first in the country to do so.

Smart City In the Works

Portland has already embarked on an ambitious plan to enact smarty city technology to upgrade its existing architecture and help city planners be more efficient. The smart city technology includes traffic monitoring cameras that some activists have been concerned the city will use to monitor the city’s residents. The city has also implemented innovations such as LED streetlights that also serve as WiFi routers for the city’s internet traffic. Despite the depth to which the city has invested in this technology, they don’t see facial recognition technology as something they would use to supplement the existing innovations.

While the city has stated that it will not be using facial recognition technology at present, the legislation doesn’t cover use by private companies. While the facial recognition technology is widespread in other commercial industries such as the airline industry, it still isn’t used within Portland’s Jetport as yet. Some of the Jetport’s partner airlines have acknowledged that they use the technology in other locations around the country.