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by Michael Maharrey, Activist Post:

WORCESTER, Mass. (Dec. 22, 2021) – Last week, the Worcester City Council unanimously passed an ordinance banning government use of facial recognition technology. The growing movement to prohibit the use of facial recognition at the state and local levels could hinder the operation of a growing national facial recognition network.

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The ordinance bans the City of Worcester or any city official from knowingly obtaining, retaining, requesting, accessing, or using any facial recognition system or any information obtained from a facial surveillance system. Any data or evidence obtained or derived from facial recognition would be inadmissible at any proceeding before a city department, officer, agency, legislative committee, or any other authority subject to city jurisdiction.

The ordinance passed by an 11-0 vote.

The ACLU of Massachusetts praised the council for passing the ban.

“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.”

Worcester is the eighth Massachusetts municipality to ban facial recognition. According to the ACLU, almost 1.5 million Massachusetts residents are now covered by facial recognition bans.

IMPACT ON FEDERAL PROGRAMS

2019 report revealed that the federal government has turned state drivers’ license photos into a giant facial recognition database, putting virtually every driver in America in a perpetual electronic police lineup. The revelations generated widespread outrage, but this story isn’t new. The federal government has been developing a massive, nationwide facial recognition system for years.

The FBI rolled out a nationwide facial recognition program in the fall of 2014, with the goal of building a giant biometric database with pictures provided by the states and corporate friends.

In 2016, the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law released “The Perpetual Lineup,” a massive report on law enforcement use of facial recognition technology in the U.S. You can read the complete report at perpetuallineup.org. The organization conducted a year-long investigation and collected more than 15,000 pages of documents through more than 100 public records requests. The report paints a disturbing picture of intense cooperation between the federal government, and state and local law enforcement to develop a massive facial recognition database.

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