Boston City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to ban the use of facial recognition technology by the city government.
Multiple council members voiced concerns with how the surveillance software could be used to racially discriminate when searching for suspects, according to WBZ4. “Boston should not use racially discriminatory technology that threatens the privacy and basic rights of our residents,” City Councilor Michelle Wu said in a statement.
Done–13-0 Vote! Thank you @ACLU_Mass @Join_SIM @UnafraidBTU & everyone who organized to protect Boston residents from racially discriminatory & invasive face surveillance technology cc: @RicardoNArroyo https://t.co/SrLUTYHh2Q
— Michelle Wu 吳弭 (@wutrain) June 24, 2020
Councilor Ricardo Arroyo also said, “the technology is a particularly serious threat to Black and brown people.” This surveillance software has never been used by the Boston Police Department, so the bill is a preventative measure. (RELATED: Boston Mayor Declares Racism A Public Health Crisis)
The Massachusetts communities of Springfield, Northampton, Brookline and Somerville and Cambridge, have also passed similar bills. Boston is the second largest city in America to ban the software following San Francisco. China is the best global example of how this technology can be used to spy on and target citizens.
In China, cameras placed in public transportation or worn on police officers have the ability to recognize the face of a fugitive and alert authorities.
This software is also used to enforce the Chinese Social Credit System. When a person ignores social distancing orders their picture may be shown on television along with their social transgression. Similarly, the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey used a Chinese drone company to watch for citizens who were disobeying the town’s coronavirus lockdown order.