Late News

Portland City Council votes to ban facial recognition technologies in public places

The Portland, Oregon City Council today unanimously voted to adopt two of the strongest bans of facial recognition technologies in the U.S. One prohibits the public use of facial recognition by city bureaus including the Portland Police Department, while the other bans all private use in places of “public accommodation,” like parks and buildings. The ordinances originally contained an amendment that would have allowed airlines in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect facial recognition data on travelers at the Portland International Airport, but the proposals voted on today makes exemptions only for Portland public schools.

The ban on Portland government agencies’ use of facial recognition technology goes into effect immediately, while the ban on private use goes into effect starting January 2021. The state of Oregon already banned police from using body cameras with facial recognition technology.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, an increasing number of cities and states have expressed concerns about facial recognition technology and its applications. Oakland and San Francisco, California and Somerville, Massachusetts are among the metros where law enforcement is prohibited from using facial recognition. In Illinois, companies must get consent before collecting biometric information of any kind, including face images. New York recently passed a moratorium on the use of biometric identification on schools until 2022, and lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering a pause on government use of any biometric surveillance system within the commonwealth.

As OneZero’s Kate Kaye notes, the newly adopted pair of Portland ordinances ban the use of facial recognition at stores, banks, restaurants, public transit stations, homeless shelters, doctors’ offices, rental properties, retirement homes, and a variety of other types of businesses. They allow people to sue noncompliant private and government entities for damages, and they establish a new chapter of city