Portland plans to propose the strictest facial recognition ban in the country


As the federal government plods along on developing privacy laws, some cities are taking matters into their own hands with facial recognition technology at the top of the list. Now, Portland, Oregon, has plans to ban the use of facial recognition for both the government and private businesses in the city, a move that could make Portland’s ban the most restrictive in the United States.

The proposed ban comes after cities including San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley in California, and Somerville in Massachusetts, have already banned the use of facial recognition by their city government agencies, including police departments. But Portland’s ban goes a step further by expanding to private businesses if it makes it into law and takes effect in spring 2020, as planned.

It could be a preview of what to expect across the country. “I think we’re going to start to see more and more [private sector bans],” says ACLU of Northern California attorney Matt Cagle, who helped draft the San Francisco legislation that later served as the model for Oakland and Berkeley. “People are really concerned about facial recognition use and the tracking of their innate features by governments and private corporations.”

Along with being used in policing, facial recognition is becoming a fixture in retail stores, stadiums, and even schools. Software providers like Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM offer algorithms that any developer can use to analyze faces, and other big companies like Facebook have already implemented facial recognition on social media.

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