Portland’s facial recognition ban passed on Wednesday is the strongest law thus far in the United States. It bans the use of such technology by city departments and public businesses like stores.
Portland Facial Recognition Ban
The order [PDF] makes a distinction between facial recognition and facial authentication. Apple customers who use Face ID to unlock their device are safe, as are people who use technology like smart cameras that can recognize visitors at home. The limitation involves mass surveillance of the public by public-facing entities.
At the moment, the City does not have the infrastructure to evaluate Face Recognition Technologies. Indiscriminate use of these technologies will degrade civil liberties and enable spaces or services that may be unfair to Black, Indigenous and People of Color. These existing issues would result in barriers to access services or public spaces where Face Recognition Technologies are required.
Robert Cattanach, expert on the California Consumer Privacy Act, shared his thoughts on the ban:
By making the ban absolute and eliminating any opportunity for balance, Portland’s approach preempts any possible dialogue among stakeholders and may be imposing a one-size-fits all solution in a highly pressurized and politicized setting, for a problem arguably deserving of more thoughtful assessment as the technology improves and its beneficial uses continue to emerge.
The rule goes into effect immediately for Portland’s government and January 1 for private uses of facial recognition banned by the rule.