Metropolis of Baltimore Could Criminalize the Use of Facial Recognition Applied sciences by Companies

The Baltimore Metropolis Council not too long ago handed an ordinance, in a vote of 13-2, barring using facial recognition expertise by metropolis residents, companies, and many of the metropolis authorities (excluding the town police division) till December 2022. Council Invoice 21-0001 prohibits individuals from “acquiring, retaining, accessing, or utilizing sure face surveillance expertise or any data obtained from sure face surveillance expertise.”

Facial recognition expertise has develop into extra common in recent times, together with through the COVID-19 pandemic. As the necessity arose to display individuals getting into a facility for signs of the virus, together with temperature, thermal cameras, kiosks, and different gadgets embedded with facial recognition capabilities have been put into use, usually inadvertently. Nonetheless, many have objected to using this expertise in its present type, citing issues with the accuracy of the expertise, as summarized in a June 9, 2020 New York Occasions article, “A Case for Banning Facial Recognition.”

Whereas many localities throughout the nation have barred using facial recognition programs by metropolis police, and different authorities companies, equivalent to San Francisco and Oakland, Baltimore is barely the second metropolis (following Portland, Oregon), to ban biometric expertise use by personal residents and companies. Efficient January 1, 2021 the Metropolis of Portland banned using facial recognition by personal entities in any “locations of public lodging” throughout the boundaries of the town. “Locations of public lodging was broadly outlined to incorporate any “place or service providing to the general public lodging, benefits, services, or privileges whether or not within the nature of products, companies, lodgings, amusements, transportation or in any other case.”

Particularly, the Baltimore ordinance prohibits a person or entity from acquiring, retaining, or utilizing facial surveillance system or any data obtained from a facial surveillance system throughout the boundaries of Baltimore metropolis. “Facial surveillance system” is outlined as any pc software program or utility that performs face surveillance. Notably, the Baltimore ordinance explicitly excluded from the definition of “facial surveillance system” a biometric safety system designed particularly to guard towards unauthorized entry to a specific location or an digital machine, that means employers utilizing a biometric safety system for worker/customer entry to their services would seem like nonetheless be permissible beneath the invoice. The ordinance additionally excludes from its definition of “facial surveillance system” the Maryland Picture Repository System (MIRS) utilized by the Baltimore Metropolis Police in prison investigations.

An individual in violation of the regulation is topic to positive of no more than $1,000, imprisonment of no more than 12 months, or each positive and imprisonment. Every day {that a} violation continues is taken into account a separate offense. The criminalization of use of facial recognition, is first of its form throughout america.

The Baltimore invoice additionally features a separate part relevant solely to the Mayor and Metropolis Council of Baltimore Metropolis, requiring an annual surveillance report by the Director of Baltimore Metropolis Data and Expertise or any successor entity, in session with the Division of Finance to be submitted to the Mayor of Baltimore detailing: 1) every buy of surveillance expertise through the prior fiscal 12 months, disaggregated by the buying company, and a couple of) a proof of using the surveillance expertise. As well as, the report should be posted to the Baltimore Metropolis Data and Expertise web site. Examples of surveillance expertise that should be included within the report embody: automated license plate readers, x-ray vans, cellular DNA seize expertise and software program designed to forecast prison exercise or criminality.

It is very important observe, that the invoice’s provisions are set to routinely expire December 31, 2022 except the Metropolis Council, after applicable examine, together with public hearings and testimonial proof concludes that such prohibitions and necessities are within the public curiosity, wherein case the regulation shall be prolonged for an extra 5 years.

The Baltimore ordinance has been met with important opposition by business specialists, notably because the ordinance can be the primary within the U.S. to criminalize personal use of biometric applied sciences. In a joint letter, the Safety Business Affiliation (SIA), the Shopper Expertise Associations (CTA) and the Data Expertise and Innovation Basis (ITIF) and XR Affiliation to reject the enactment of the Baltimore ordinance on grounds that it’s overly broad and prohibits industrial functions of facial recognition expertise that have already got widespread public acceptance and supply “useful and noncontroversial” companies, together with for instance: elevated and customised accessibility for disabled individuals, healthcare services to confirm affected person identities whereas decreasing the necessity for close-proximity interpersonal interactions, banks to boost shopper safety to confirm purchases and ATM entry, and plenty of extra. An identical concern was voiced by Councilmember Issac Schliefer who was one of many two votes opposing the ordinance.

The ordinance now awaits signage by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, and if signed, will develop into efficient 30 days after enactment. In anticipation, of the ordinance’s potential enactment, companies within the Metropolis of Baltimore ought to start evaluating whether or not they’re utilizing facial recognition applied sciences, whether or not they fall into one of many exceptions within the ordinance, and if not what alternate options they’ve for verification, safety, and different functions for which the expertise was applied.

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