Portland votes to ban facial recognition scanning by police

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The US Presidential Elections are currently underway, and while votes are still being counted as to who will be the leader of the free world, there are also some other important decisions being reached at the same time.

These include Uber and Lyft drivers in California losing their fight to be classified as employees, as well as the banning of facial recognition software being used by police in Portland, Maine, in the US.

It is the latter that is the focus of this story, as the move to ban facial recognition software being used by city agencies in Portland, including the police, was put on the ballot earlier in the year. This initiative also replaces an ordinance made in August, and as a result, cannot be revoked for five years minimum.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the ban on facial recognition software was put on the ballot by the Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, with the organisation also proposing a $15 minimum wage and a limit on rental increases, both of which also passed.

Shifting back to the facial recognition aspect, and fines were also outlined as part of the ballot, with a minimum of $1 000 in city fees available to citizens who are illegally surveilled by any city authority.

As we know facial recognition software has proved quite pervasive given its use in new smartphones as a form of biometric security.

In the hands of more nefarious people and organisations, however, it could also be used to monitor and identify citizens without their knowledge or consent, which is likely why the ban was successfully voted on today.

Whether or not other cities and states in the US follow a similar tact remains to be seen, but given some of the issues surrounding policing in America of late, it will no doubt turn into a hotly debated issue.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.