Portland, Oregon, passes hardest ban on facial recognition in US


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Underneath Portland’s ordinance, non-public companies will probably be banned from utilizing facial recognition. 


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Portland’s Metropolis Council on Wednesday handed the strongest ban on facial recognition within the US, blocking the know-how from non-public companies in addition to authorities companies within the Oregon metropolis. 

Portland’s ban on facial recognition is not the primary, however it’s the strictest. Although cities like San Francisco, Boston and Oakland, California, have all handed laws banning authorities companies from utilizing facial recognition, Portland’s measure additionally prohibits industrial companies from utilizing the know-how.  

The invoice handed unanimously, and the ban will take impact in January 2021. 

That implies that together with law enforcement officials being banned from utilizing facial recognition to determine potential suspects, shops and companies will not be capable of use the know-how both. An Oregonian report in February detailed how a Portland comfort retailer used facial recognition to permit entry and determine shoplifters. 

The ban will even prolong to facial recognition at airports, the place airways like Delta use the know-how for boarding.

“All Portlanders are entitled to a metropolis authorities that won’t use know-how with demonstrated racial and gender biases that endanger private privateness,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler stated at Wednesday’s Metropolis Council assembly.

The industrial ban on facial recognition alerts a bigger transfer to outlaw the know-how past police use. Whereas firms like Amazon and Microsoft have paused their facial recognition work with police over moral considerations, the know-how continues to be being utilized by companies, which might present that information to legislation enforcement companies. 

In July, the Digital Frontier Basis discovered that San Francisco police used a downtown enterprise district’s digital camera community to observe protesters, blurring the road between private and non-private surveillance. 

Researchers have steadily discovered points with facial recognition algorithms relating to racial and gender bias, no matter who’s utilizing the know-how. And Detroit’s police division has admitted that its facial recognition misidentifies individuals “96% of the time,” with the know-how resulting in fallacious arrests on a number of events. 

Personal companies typically have decrease thresholds for accuracy than authorities companies do. Amazon recommends that legislation enforcement companies use a 99% confidence threshold for its facial recognition algorithm, however not non-public companies, for instance. 

Personal companies additionally haven’t got guidelines or requirements to stop the abuse of facial recognition. You may be banned from visiting a retailer and by no means know that it is as a result of the facial recognition system misidentified you as a shoplifter.  

Bans on facial recognition have come metropolis by metropolis, whereas federal lawmakers look to move nationwide laws on the know-how. Many of the laws proposed within the final 12 months has been targeted on public use of facial recognition slightly than on use by non-public companies. 

In March 2019, two senators proposed the Business Facial Recognition Privateness Act, which might stop firms from amassing facial recognition information on individuals with out their consent. 

The choice of Portland’s Metropolis Council goes past limiting the know-how, and absolutely outlaws it.

“That is the primary of its form laws within the nation, and I consider on the planet,” Wheeler stated. “That is really a historic day for town of Portland.”

Town’s mayor added that he hopes this laws will encourage different cities to tackle harder laws in opposition to facial recognition. Privateness advocates who supported the ban in Portland agreed.

“Now, cities throughout the nation should look to Portland and move bans of their very own,” Lia Holland, an activist with the digital rights group Struggle for the Future, stated in an announcement. “And, Congress ought to act to move bans on the federal stage. We have now the momentum, and now we have the need to beat again this harmful and discriminatory know-how.”


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The ordinance bans each authorities companies and personal companies from utilizing facial recognition in Portland, with exceptions for particular person use like unlocking your personal telephone or utilizing a face filter on a social media app. 

Corporations that violate the ban are liable to lawsuits and could also be required to pay $1,000 a day for every day of the violation, in line with the laws. 

“We’re a pro-technology metropolis, however what we have seen to this point in follow with this know-how, it continues to exacerbate the overcriminalization of Black and Brown individuals in our group,” Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty stated. Hardesty stated facial recognition will not be used within the metropolis till issues are addressed and the fixes have been verified by impartial sources.



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