Portland Bans Use of Facial Recognition Software

Commentary & Community

Portland Bans Use of Facial Recognition Software

This week the Portland city council unanimously passed legislation to ban the use of facial recognition technology by either government entities or private businesses.


When this ban takes effect in January 2021, Portland will join a handful of other cities in prohibiting the use of this technology. Portland’s prohibition of facial recognition technology will be the strictest among these other cities, however. It not only bars the police and other local government agencies from deploying facial recognition software, it also prohibits private companies (including airlines using the Portland airport) from doing so.


Privacy advocates have raised concerns about the use of this technology to track individuals. They contend that it leads to the government gaining too much information on individual behavior. They also note that studies have found racial bias as part of the software. Police and law enforcement support this technology, arguing that it helps identify criminals. Stores also use facial recognition software to identify shoplifters.


There have been moves at the federal level to prohibit the use of this technology, but Congress has yet to act on this legislation. 


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