People being scanned by facial recognition.

Shutterstock (Licensed)

Another major Massachusetts city votes to ban facial recognition

Worcester becomes the 8th municipality in Massachusetts to pass a ban.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Dec 16, 2021   Updated Dec 16, 2021, 11:02 am CST

Worcester, Massachusetts joined numerous other cities in the state and across the country this week in banning the use of facial recognition technology by the government.

The city council voted this week on an ordinance that would ban the city’s government from using or acquiring facial recognition technology. The technology has been fiercely criticized because of its documented racial bias, and calls for a ban at the national level have been growing for years.

Worcester’s vote makes the city the 8th municipality in Massachusetts to ban facial recognition, according to WGBH. Boston passed a ban in June of last year, while other cities including San Francisco, Oakland, and Portland have also instituted bans.

Meanwhile, King County, Washington—the state’s largest county—passed a ban earlier this year.

Other Massachusetts cities that have banned the technology include Brookline, Cambridge, Easthampston, Northampton, Springfield, and Somerville.

Councilor Khrystian King told the Telegram & Gazette the ordinance was passed because of the technology’s inordinate impact on people of color.

“Facial recognition technology is found to misidentify suspects and does so disproportionately. Black women are often mislabeled as men and Black men are often misidentified as being a threat risk,” King said, according to the news outlet. “This ordinance will ensure due process and a high level of governmental oversight.”

The Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Worcester’s ban means that almost 1.5 million residents in the state are now covered by facial recognition bans.

“We applaud the Worcester city manager and city council for taking this sensible and necessary step to protect city residents from invasive tracking with secretive and often biased face surveillance technology,” Kade Crockford, the director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a statement.


Read more about facial recognition

Activists call out Ace Hardware, Apple stores for using facial recognition on customers
Democrats introduce bill to ban facial recognition in public housing
Calls for Biden to ban facial recognition grow after GAO report’s findings
A Black teenager was kicked out of a skating rink after a false facial recognition match
Share this article
*First Published: Dec 16, 2021, 10:01 am CST