Pause Government Face Surveillance in Massachusetts
Concern over government face surveillance in our communities is widespread. Polling from the ACLU of Massachusetts has found that more than three-quarters, 79 percent, support a statewide moratorium. The city council of Somerville, Massachusetts voted unanimously in July to ban government face surveillance altogether, becoming the first community on the East coast to do so. The town of Brookline, Massachusetts is currently considering a ban of its own. In California, the cities of San Francisco, Oakland—and just this week—Berkeley have passed bans as well. EFF has advocated for governments to stop use of face surveillance in our communities immediately, particularly in light of what researchers at MIT’s Media Lab and others have found about its high error rates—particularly for women and people of color.
Even if it were possible to lessen these misidentification risks, however, government use of face recognition technology still poses grave threats to safety and privacy. Regardless of our race or gender, law enforcement use of face recognition technology poses a profound threat to personal privacy, political and religious expression, and the fundamental freedom to go about our lives without having our movements and associations covertly documented and analyzed.
On the same day that Oakland’s City Council voted to ban government use of the technology, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 3494) that would require the Director of National Intelligence to report on the use of face surveillance by intelligence agencies.
Tell your lawmakers to support this bill and make sure that the people of Massachusetts have the opportunity to evaluate the consequences of using this technology before this type of mass surveillance becomes the norm in your communities.