City Council votes to ban the use of face surveillance
Governments around the world are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with an unprecedented use of surveillance tools, including face surveillance technology, despite public health and privacy experts agreeing that public trust is essential to an effective response to the pandemic.
Facial surveillance technology has been proven to be less accurate for African American and AAPI faces, and racial bias in facial surveillance has the potential to harm communities of color who are already facing increased levels of surveillance and harassment.
Several municipalities in Massachusetts, including Springfield, Somerville, Brookline and Cambridge have passed local legislation to ban face surveillance. This week, Boston joined those municipalities as the Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance to ban the use of face surveillance technology by Boston city government agencies. Boston does not currently use this technology, but this ordinance will set parameters to codify this as video analysis software is being upgraded.