Maine city bans local police and government use of biometric facial recognition pending referendum

Maine city bans local police and government use of biometric facial recognition pending referendum

Biometric facial recognition cannot be used by municipal agencies in Portland, Maine, after its City Council unanimously approved an ordinance banning it until a referendum in November, which will decide the matter for five years.

The vote on the proposal, which was tabled in November, came late in a council meeting and with little explanation for its sudden readiness, according to The Portland Press Herald. An enforcement provision for city employees violating the ban was removed due to concerns it may violate collective bargaining rights.

City attorney Danielle West-Chuhta said that the city plans to ask for clarification of certain provisions by a court. A referendum proposal by People First Portland will supersede the bill if it is successful in November, and that if it does the city will ask about provisions in that ordinance.

“There may be some additional legal analysis that needs to occur if it passes at the polls,” West-Chuhta said, the Press Herald reports.

Black Lives Matter Portland demanded the ban be enacted following the killing of George Floyd in May, but suggested on Facebook that the change to the removal of the enforcement provision “will weaken the ban almost to the point of uselessness.”

The ban goes into effect in 30 days.

Meanwhile, the city council of Portland, Oregon is considering a facial recognition ban which would be the most restrictive yet passed by any city in the U.S., including a definition of ‘facial recognition’ that falls outside of conventional use.

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