Maine joins a growing number of cities, counties and states that are rejecting dangerously biased surveillance technologies like facial recognition.
The new law, which is the strongest statewide facial recognition law in the country, not only found widespread, bipartisan support, but was passed unanimously in both houses of the state legislature. Lawmakers and advocates spanning the political spectrum — from progressive lawmakers who sponsored the bill to Republican members who ousted it from committee, to Maine’s ACLU to state law enforcement agencies — have made this a big win for Mainers and anyone. Come together to be safe. They care about their right to privacy.
Maine is the latest success story in the nationwide movement to ban or strictly regulate the use of facial recognition technology, an effort led by grassroots activists and organizations such as the ACLU. From the Pine Tree State to the Golden State, national efforts to regulate facial recognition demonstrate a widespread recognition that we cannot allow technology to dictate the limits of our freedom in Digital 21.scheduled tribe century.
Facial recognition technology poses a profound threat to civil rights and civil liberties. Without democratic oversight, governments can use technology as a tool for dragnet surveillance, threatening our freedom of speech and association, due process rights, and the right to be alone. If this technology remains unchecked, democracy is at stake.
Facial recognition technology poses a profound threat to civil rights and civil liberties.
We know that the burden of facial recognition is not carried equally, because black and brown communities – especially Muslim and immigrant communities – are already targets of discriminatory government surveillance. Making matters worse, face surveillance algorithms have more difficulty accurately analyzing the faces of people of dark complexion, women, the elderly and children. Simply put: technology is dangerous when it works – and when it doesn’t.
But not all approaches to regulating this technology are created equal. Maine is the first in the country to pass comprehensive statewide regulations. Washington was the first to pass a weak law in the face of strong opposition from civil rights, community and religious freedom organizations. The legislation passed in large part due to strong support from Washington-based megacorporation Microsoft. Washington’s facial recognition law would still allow tech companies to sell their technology for millions of dollars to every conceivable government agency.
Conversely, Maine’s law takes a different route, putting the interests of ordinary Mainers above the profit motives of private companies.
Maine’s new law restricts the use of facial recognition technology in most areas of government, including public schools, and for surveillance purposes. This makes it a carefully carved exception for law enforcement to use facial recognition, creating standards for its use, and avoiding the potential for abuse we’ve seen in other parts of the country. Importantly, it prohibits the use of facial recognition technology to monitor people going about their business in Maine, attending political meetings and protests, visiting friends and family, and seeking health care. demands.
In Maine, law enforcement now must – among other limitations – meet a probable cause standard before requesting facial recognition, and they use a facial recognition match as the sole basis for arresting or finding someone. cannot use. Nor can local police departments purchase, possess, or use their own facial recognition software, ensuring that shady technologies such as Clearview AI will not be used behind closed doors by Maine’s government officials, As has happened in other states.
Maine’s law and others like it are critical to preventing communities from being harmed by new, untested surveillance technologies like facial recognition. But we need a federal approach, not just a piecemeal local approach, to effectively protect Americans’ privacy with facial surveillance. That’s why it’s important for Americans to support the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, a bill introduced last month by members of both houses of Congress.
The ACLU supports this federal law that would protect all people in the United States from aggressive surveillance. We urge all Americans to ask their members of Congress to join and support the movement to stop facial recognition technology.