Portland, Maine passes referendum banning facial surveillance

Brian Heater
·1 min read

As we’re currently shifting through all of the national and local votes from last night’s elections, here’s a small but important victory for privacy advocates out of Portland, Maine. Per the Bangor Daily News, the city passed “Referendum Question B,” designed to curb government and police use of facial recognition technology.

According to the initiative:

An Act to Ban Facial Surveillance by Public Officials in Portland will ban the city of Portland and its departments and officials from using or authorizing the use of any facial surveillance software on any groups or member of the public, and provides a right to members of the public to sue if facial surveillance data is illegally gathered and/or used.

It’s one of four progressive measures that passed last night in the city. Other successful measures include a $15/hour minimum wage and a cap on rent increases. It also joins other recent local ordinances. Other cities to pass similar legislation include San Francisco, Boston and the other Portland, which offered a pretty sweeping ban back in September.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, an arrest was made in Washington, DC using facial recognition. The individual was reportedly identified using an image found on Twitter.