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Banning biometric technologies

What local governments are doing to protect privacy and safeguard citizens against technology intrusions

July 01, 2019

Are cities going too far with “in your face” technology? Many seem to think so.
 
For a growing number of people, the concept of nonstop facial recognition-powered surveillance is considered an extraordinary invasion of privacy—one that could ultimately result in the loss of their very identities, as well as their ability to move through life freely and anonymously.
 
As biometric technologies, such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanners, continue to improve and spread within cities, airports, stadiums and police departments, so do privacy concerns. Though the agencies using the technology say the processes and technology comply with privacy laws, they have still been subject to criticism, especially from the Electronic Privacy Center. The group argues that, “When you have the ability to track people in the physical space, in effect everybody becomes subject to the surveillance of the government.”
 
These fears are not going unheard. Several cities and state governments have taken a stand against the potential abuse of this technology.
 
3 cities striving to safeguard privacy of citizens
 
San Francisco
San Francisco has long been at the forefront of technology. At least until the city’s Board of Supervisors recently came to an 8-to-1 vote to ban the use of facial recognition software by police and other agencies. In an attempt to send a strong message to the nation, city supervisor and bill sponsor, Aaron Peskin, stated that, “part of San Francisco being the real and perceived headquarters for all things tech also comes with a responsibility for its local legislators. We have an outsize responsibility to regulate the excesses of technology precisely because they are headquartered here.”
 
Boston
In Boston, and surrounding cities, similar bans are underway. Currently there’s a bill in the State Legislature that could put a moratorium on facial recognition, along with other remote biometric surveillance systems. 
 
Washington
On Capitol Hill, a similar bill was introduced in April. However, this one is focused on commercial facial recognition. In essence, this legislation would prevent the technology from collecting and sharing any data that could possibly identify or track consumers without the necessary permissions.
 
Getting on the “ban-wagon”
Bans like these prohibit various city agencies from using not only biometric technologies, including facial recognition, but also any information gathered from the technology. The San Francisco proposal, along with the other bills in motion, are all part of a much larger legislative movement meant to govern the overall use of surveillance and prevent the technology from being abused, intrusive or even used against the public.
 
If you’re selling biometric technology to cities and local governments, these trends may affect you. For more information on how to navigate the changing technology landscape, connect with the Ingram Micro public sector team today.