The use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement has long been a topic of controversy, with civil rights advocates arguing that it disproportionately misidentifies people of color. In response to this, several cities in Massachusetts, including Boston and Springfield, have already banned the use of this technology at the local level.
On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing to discuss proposals that seek to limit law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology. State Sen. Cynthia Creem, who is sponsoring a bill related to this issue, addressed concerns about the technology’s potential to facilitate government surveillance and its history of inaccurately identifying individuals in criminal investigations.
The proposed bill would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before using facial recognition on an unidentified suspect and inform criminal defendants if they were identified through the software. The bill also includes exceptions for emergency situations and seeks to centralize the use of facial recognition technology within a special State Police unit. This proposal reflects the recommendations of the state’s Special Commission on Facial Recognition Technology, which was established as part of Massachusetts’ 2020 police reform law. While similar legislation was approved by the House last year, the state Senate didn’t act on it before the session ended.
Director Kade Crockford from Technology for Liberty program at ACLU of Massachusetts emphasized the importance of enacting these recommendations into law as other states such as Montana and Maine have already passed facial recognition laws. It is crucial for Massachusetts to follow suit and protect its citizens from potential abuse