Boston follows San Francisco to ban the use of any kind of Facial Recognition technology by police or city authorities
Ever since the custodial murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, the facial recognition technology has come under the increased scanner. First, Amazon banned the use of its Rekognition facial recognition tool by police authorities for one year. It was followed by IBM who said they were completely trashing the facial recognition tech while Microsoft announced that they would not sell facial recognition tech to authorities unless there is proper mandated regulation.
Concurrently many cities in United States joined the ban Facial Recognition technology chorus. Now, Boston has implemented a law totally banning the use of facial recognition technology by local authorities and law enforcement officials. Boston became the second-largest city in the world after San Francisco to ban the use of facial recognition technology.
The ban facial recognition technology ordinance was passed unanimously on Wednesday and bars any use of the technology. It also bars the city officials and authorities from procuring facial surveillance from a third party. The measure earned a veto-proof majority and was been passed to the office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, which will now review and sign the bill.
The bill against the use of facial recognition technology was sponsored by Councilor Ricardo Arroyo. He told the council members that the technology is inaccurate when it comes to people of color. He said that a 2018 MIT study that found an error rate of almost 35% for dark-skinned women compared to 0.8% for light-skinned men. He also cited another study by NIST which concurred with MIT findings.
Interestingly, the Boston Police Department doesn’t use any kind of facial recognition tool for crime-fighting. The closest thing they use is BriefCam, the video analysis software which has bits and pieces of facial recognition technology. The police commissioner said that they would opt out of the software update that enabled the facial recognition technology now that the city has banned it.
Facial recognition technology has become a taboo in the United States. San Francisco became the first US city to ban it. It was followed by a number of US cities, including Oakland, Cambridge, and Berkeley. Now Boston has decided to ban the tech. This map shows the use of Facial Recognition technology in the United States.