Maine City Defers Vote on Facial Recognition Tech Ban

Portland delayed taking action Monday on a proposal to prohibit city employees from using facial recognition technology. Proponents of the ban say the technology often misidentifies women, people of color and children.

by / November 19, 2019

Elected leaders in Portland, Maine, will revisit a potential ban on facial recognition technology, which city staff reported is not currently in use.

According to a news report by the Portland Press Herald, Councilman Pious Ali said misidentification is a common problem with the emerging technology, especially among women, people of color and children. Public awareness and concern grew out of a Portland Police presentation before the local school board where the department stated it is considering combining facial recognition with body camera usage.

“It’s very invasive and it tramps on people’s freedom of speech,” Ali said in the Press Herald report. “I am bringing this forward to make sure no city staff, employee or agent uses that, to protect the privacy of our citizens.”

City councilmembers decided during the public hearing that Ali’s proposal should be referred to a committee for further review after the new mayor, Kate Snyder, assumes office and the group holds a goal-setting session.

The council will revisit banning facial recognition on Jan. 6.

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