Portland City Council members unanimously voted Wednesday to ban the public – and in some cases private – use of facial recognition technology, making it the strictest ban of its kind in the country, according to several reports.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty introduced the bans, which will go into effect immediately for city authorities and will go into effect Jan. 1 for private companies, The Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
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The ordinances prohibit the use of facial recognition technology by city authorities and on public property within the city, but also prohibit use “by private entities in public housing locations,”
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Facial recognition technology violates public privacy and has “a proven gender and racist bias,” said Wheeler, according to OPB.com.
“There are technologies that make our lives easier and that cannot be used by public and private institutions as a weapon against the citizens they serve and house,” said the democratic mayor.
He also praised the news on Twitter, saying Thursday was “a truly historic day for the city of Portland”.
“We own our privacy,” Hardesty said before the council voted. “And we have a duty to make sure we don’t let people secretly collect it and sell it for profit or fear-based activities.”
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This type of technology collects and analyzes people’s biometric data, the physical facial features that are “unique to a person and can verify a person’s identity,” explains a Smart City PDX website dedicated to regulations.
“Portland residents and visitors alike should enjoy access to public spaces with adequate privacy,” the website said. “Law enforcement agencies’ use of facial recognition can identify the wrong person. The source of these concerns is prejudice against blacks and browns, women and the elderly. Collecting biometric information without supervision or protective measures poses risks to people. These risks and negative effects are worst for those suffering from the prejudice. “
The Agency also expresses its concern about the lack of data protection certifications and oversight “which cover all aspects of data protection”.
“Any invasion of privacy by biometric data is very difficult to mitigate and control. The risks increase due to a lack of care and transparency. Apps that use facial biometric data must inherently have privacy, ”the city authority wrote. “The city wants to make sure that children’s information – and all personal information – is safe.”
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A Portland Police Bureau spokesman did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment, but the department has previously stated that it does not use this technology, OPB.com reported.
According to The Oregonian, at least one private company in Portland, a grocery store with three locations in the city, has used the technology in customer approach and entry into stores.