Baltimore Bans Facial Recognition Tech by Enterprises and Authorities

The Baltimore City Council just lately handed an ordinance, in a vote of 13-2, barring

The Baltimore City Council just lately handed an ordinance, in a vote of 13-2, barring the use of facial recognition engineering by metropolis residents, companies, and most of the town governing administration (excluding the metropolis law enforcement section) right until December 2022.  Council Bill 21-0001  prohibits folks from “obtaining, retaining, accessing, or using particular confront surveillance know-how or any facts acquired from specified encounter surveillance technology.”

Facial recognition know-how has come to be more well-liked in current decades, together with through the COVID-19 pandemic. As the will need arose to screen people moving into a facility for signs and symptoms of the virus, which include temperature, thermal cameras, kiosks, and other gadgets embedded with facial recognition capabilities were set into use, generally inadvertently. Even so, several have objected to the use of this technological know-how in its latest kind, citing issues with the accuracy of the technologies, as summarized in a June 9, 2020 New York Periods posting, “A Case for Banning Facial Recognition.”

Even though many localities across the nation have barred the use of facial recognition techniques by city police, and other government companies, this kind of as San Francisco and Oakland, Baltimore is only the 2nd metropolis (subsequent Portland, Oregon), to ban biometric engineering use by private citizens and businesses. Powerful January 1, 2021 the Town of Portland banned the use of facial recognition by personal entities in any “places of general public accommodation” inside of the boundaries of the city. “Places of public lodging was broadly outlined to contain any “place or support presenting to the community accommodations, positive aspects, services, or privileges irrespective of whether in the character of items, solutions, lodgings, amusements, transportation or otherwise.”

Especially, the Baltimore ordinance prohibits an personal or entity from getting, retaining, or applying facial surveillance program or any facts received from a facial surveillance procedure inside the boundaries of Baltimore metropolis. “Facial surveillance system” is outlined as any laptop or computer computer software or software that performs experience surveillance. Notably, the Baltimore ordinance explicitly excluded from the definition of “facial surveillance system” a biometric stability program developed exclusively to shield in opposition to unauthorized accessibility to a distinct site or an digital gadget, which means companies employing a biometric security program for employee/customer obtain to their facilities would appear to even now be permissible below the monthly bill. The ordinance also excludes from its definition of “facial surveillance system” the Maryland Image Repository Technique (MIRS) utilized by the Baltimore Metropolis Law enforcement in legal investigations.

A person in violation of the legislation is topic to a wonderful of not much more than $1,000, imprisonment of not a lot more than 12 months, or the two fantastic and imprisonment.  Every working day that a violation continues is viewed as a independent offense. The criminalization of the use of facial recognition, is the very first of its kind across the United States.

The Baltimore monthly bill also includes a different part applies only to the Mayor and Metropolis Council of Baltimore Metropolis, requiring an once-a-year surveillance report by the Director of Baltimore Metropolis Details and Engineering or any successor entity, in consultation with the Office of Finance to be submitted to the Mayor of Baltimore detailing: 1) each individual order of surveillance technology in the course of the prior fiscal 12 months, disaggregated by the buying company, and 2) an rationalization of the use of the surveillance technological innovation.  In addition, the report have to be posted to the Baltimore Town Data and Engineering site. Examples of surveillance technological know-how that need to be integrated in the report incorporate: automated license plate audience, x-ray vans, cell DNA capture technology and computer software created to forecast felony activity or criminality.

It is significant to observe, that the bill’s provisions are established to instantly expire December 31, 2022, unless the Town Council, just after ideal analyze, such as public hearings and testimonial proof concludes that these prohibitions and needs are in the general public desire, in which case the law will be extended for an additional 5 many years.

The Baltimore ordinance has been fulfilled with considerable opposition by sector specialists, particularly as the ordinance would be the to start with in the U.S. to criminalize non-public use of biometric technologies. In a joint letter, the Stability Sector Affiliation (SIA), the Shopper Technology Associations (CTA) and the Data Engineering and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and XR Affiliation reject the enactment of the Baltimore ordinance on grounds that it is extremely wide and prohibits business applications of facial recognition engineering that previously have widespread general public acceptance and deliver “beneficial and noncontroversial” services, including for example: greater and custom-made accessibility for disabled persons, health care amenities to confirm affected individual identities while minimizing the want for shut-proximity interpersonal interactions, banking institutions to boost shopper stability to validate purchases and ATM obtain, and quite a few more. A similar worry was voiced by Councilmember Issac Schliefer who was a person of the two votes opposing the ordinance.

The ordinance now awaits signage by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, and if signed, will come to be helpful 30 times just after enactment. In anticipation, of the ordinance’s probable enactment, organizations in the City of Baltimore ought to start out evaluating no matter if they are employing facial recognition technologies, no matter whether they drop into a person of the exceptions in the ordinance, and if not what alternate options they have for verification, protection, and other functions for which the know-how was executed.


Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021
National Law Overview, Volume XI, Quantity 172