Face surveillance by government poses a threat to our privacy, chills protest in public places, and amplifies historical biases in our criminal justice system. Massachusetts has the opportunity to become the first state to stop government use of this troubling technology, from Provincetown to Pittsfield.
Massachusetts residents: tell your legislature to press pause on government use of face surveillance throughout the Commonwealth. Massachusetts bills S.1385 and H.1538 would place a moratorium on government use of the technology, and your lawmakers need to hear from you ahead of an Oct. 22 hearing on these bills.
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.
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.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows. Visit https://www.eff.org
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